Scorching Heat Fuels Wildfires in the United States

The Algar Lake wildfire burning in the Fort McMurray Forest Area, U.S. Photo: X/ @WilkieFire

July 12, 2024 Hour: 11:28 am

A relentless heat wave broke temperature records, elevating the risk of wildfires across the country’s western region.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued its latest update stating that “dangerous and record-breaking” heat will continue for much of the West through the end of the work week.


Over 28,000 Evacuate as Fast-moving Wildfire Expands in California

Las Vegas set a new record for the longest stretch of days with temperatures exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 degrees Celsius) or higher. The most populous city in Nevada has recorded six consecutive days as the temperature hit 115 degrees on Thursday noon at the Harry Reid International Airport.

Meanwhile, temperatures in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit for two consecutive weeks, leading to extended heat warnings through Saturday. Elsewhere, Kingman in Arizona and Salem and Portland in Oregon have also registered record-high temperatures.

“This level of heat for many people will create an extreme risk of heat-related illnesses when access to adequate cooling or hydration is not available,” the NWS warned in an earlier forecast on Thursday.

Tragically, extreme heat is suspected of killing a growing number of people in California, Oregon and Arizona since last week.

Santa Clara County in California was investigating 19 potential heat-related deaths, including four homeless individuals and nine people over the age of 65, said the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office.

In Oregon, the number of potentially heat-related deaths had risen to 14 as of Thursday, the state medical examiner’s office said. The scorching conditions also exacerbated the wildfire threat. Firefighters across the West were battling multiple blazes in extreme temperatures on Thursday.

There are currently 19 active wildfire incidents in California, including the Lake fire, which started on July 5 and burned over 34,000 acres of land. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), it prompted evacuation orders for about 200 homes in the mountains and was only 16 percent contained.

Cal Fire data indicated that this year’s wildfire season was significantly more active than the previous five years. As of Thursday, over 3,579 wildfires had burned 219,247 acres across California, surpassing the five-year average of 49,751 acres during the same period.

Hawaii has not been spared. On Wednesday, firefighters closed Haleakala National Park on Maui to battle a wildfire on the mountain’s slopes, stranding visitors in their vehicles overnight until fire crews cleared the roads Thursday morning.

In response to the heightened fire risk, officials in Oregon and Washington have implemented burn bans and other restrictions to prevent new ignitions. Activities such as campfires, operating chainsaws and target shooting are prohibited in most areas.

Autor: teleSUR/ JF

Fuente: Xinhua

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