Western Wildfires Deplete Fire-Fighting Resources, Cause New Evacuations

CHELAN, Wash., Aug. 19 (UPI) — As wildfires along the west coast of the United States continue to burn, fire-fighting resources are quickly being depleted and new evacuations were spurred Wednesday.

Wildfires have forced new evacuations in Oregon and California since Sunday. Additionally, thousands were left without power in Washington and the San Fransisco Bay Area has been covered in a gray haze.

In central Oregon, fires led to the brief closure of a highway between Mount Hood and Portland as well as the shuttering and evacuation of 500 employees and guests from the nearby Kah-Nee-Tah resort.

The multiple wildfires burning throughout California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho have also begun to stretch resources thin.

Military and international aid has been sought out by authorities in the affected states. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, has called in 200 active military troops to contain 95 fires, marking the first time the agency has solicited U.S. Army help for suppressing fires since 2006.

The solicitation for international aid has yet to be answered.

In California, 14,000 firefighters were fighting the flames as of Sunday. Though the most violent of them had been contained, another one dubbed the Jerusalem Fire spread across 40 square miles and continued to send smoke over the Bay Area.

The California firefighters are also joined by nearly 4,000 felons from California’s state prisons, operating out of “conservation camps” and being paid two dollars a day and a two-day reduction in their sentence for each day they fight the fires. An additional two dollars a day are paid by simply being a part of the program. Though the work is hard, some inmates are pleased at the chance to be treated like helpful individuals and to be out of prison. Critics argue the program keeps other improvements from reaching California prisons.

Three individuals were checked for injuries after a fire-fighting helicopter was forced to land in a cemetery near Los Angeles.


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