Tamarack Fire prompts evacuations as dozens of blazes scorch Western states

A total of 517 people have been deployed to fight the Tamarack Fire near the Nevada border in California, which has grown to more than 18,000 acres. Photo courtesy of Incident Information System/Website

July 19 (UPI) — A wildfire burning near Nevada’s Lake Tahoe since early this month exploded to more than twice its size overnight, officials said Sunday as dozens of fires rage in the Western states.

The Tamarack Fire grew to 18,299 acres on Sunday from more than 6,000 acres a day earlier, prompting authorities to issue mandatory evacuations for more than a dozen locations, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest said in a statement Sunday.

The fire ignited July 4 by lightning in Markleeville, Calif., near the Nevada border, and as of Sunday was zero percent contained.

“Firefighters will continue to actively suppress the fire where they can do so safely,” the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest said. “Crews will be focusing on preserving life and property with point protection on structures and putting in containment lines where possible.”

The fire, fueled by dry conditions, has also prompted authorities to close at least one highway and smaller roads and to urge residents to drive with caution near where 517 firefighters deployed to the blaze are working.

A red flag warning is in place until 11 a.m. Monday as thunderstorms, which may cause erratic winds in the area, were predicted over Sunday.

The fire also caused Death Ride, a bicycle race of the California Alps, to be canceled, organizers said in a note on their website.

The fire is one of dozens burning up and down the Western United States, according to the Incident Information System.

The National Interagency Fire Center counted 80 fires nationwide, with Montana home to the most with 18, followed by Idaho with 17.

More than 1.1 million acres across 13 states have been burned by the fires, it said, with nearly 20,000 wild-land firefighters and support deployed in the suppression effort.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings from Southern California into the Northern Rockies, including for Klamath Basin and the Fremont Winema National Forest, where the Bootleg Fire, the nation’s current largest blaze, is burning.

Officials said Sunday that the fire that ignited July 6 has grown to nearly 300,000 acres with only 22% contained.

“It’s going to be a real battle today,” operations section chief John Flannigan said during a Sunday morning briefing. “It’s going to be a battle, but we’re going to stay in it.”


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