Majority of California Wildfires Contained, 100 Homes Destroyed

July 14, 2008

More than 1,400 fires that burned as part of California’s lightining series have been contained due to the endless efforts of firefighters from California, as well as from throughout the nation and Canada, according to CalFire. In total, 1,781 fires were burning at the peak of the fires. As of July 13, 2008, 1,493 fires were contained, 288 were still active, and 839,343 acres had burned, according to the state agency.

The hundreds of three-week old wildfires nevertheless are exhausting state firefighting resources, according to catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide. The fires have destroyed 100 homes and 117 other structures, and consumed more than 725,000 acres, the risk modeling company said. Nearly 14,000 homes and 3,000 other structures remain threatened in California.

Two high-profile fires, the Gap Fire and the Basin Complex Fire, were significantly contained as of press time. “The Gap Fire (Los Padres National Forest) expanded dramatically (the week of July 1, 2008), growing from 200 acres to more than 2,400 overnight, and then spreading across 9,443 acres by Sunday, (July 6, 2008),” said Scott Stransky, research analyst at AIR Worldwide. By July 14, however, it had “moved much slower — consuming only about 200 acres. The fire was contained to 55 percent as of Thursday, July 10, up from 30 percent previously, and it threatened just 251 homes.

On the coast, hundreds of people returned to their homes after firefighters pushed back the nearly 100,000-acre Basin Complex Fire threatening Big Sur. Though relatively large in terms of acreage, the fire destroyed just 26 homes. As of press time, it was 61 percent contained — up from 11 percent on July 11, 2008. Attempts were being made to asses damaged homes, AIR Worldwide said.
Nevertheless, AIR Worldwide cautioned that gusty winds and temperatures that were expected to soar to record highs could spread burning embers and make firefighting difficult.

Throughout northern and central parts of California, highways and local roads were closed, and sections of six counties were under orders to evacuate, as of press time.

Meanwhile, in Washington State, high winds gusting up to 50 mph fanned a wildfire that ignited July 10 in a wooded part of the Spokane Valley. The fire forced 200 residents to evacuate, consumed 1,200 acres, burned 4 homes, and threatens dozens more. The fire remains out of control.

Sources: CalFire, AIR Worldwide

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