California Wildfire Forces Evacuations as West Sizzles in Record Heat


July 8, 2017

The Alamo Fire broke out near Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County on Thursday and nearly doubled in size to 6,000 acres overnight due to high temperatures, strong, gusty winds, and low humidity.





Firefighters near California's central coast worked on Saturday to protect dozens of evacuated homes from a fast-moving wildfire burning in steep terrain after searing temperatures reached record highs in parts of the U.S. West.

The so-called Alamo Fire, named after a creek running in the area where it started on Thursday, has expanded to about 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) on the border between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Fueled by high winds and bone-dry vegetation, the size of the fire has doubled overnight. The fire was only 10 percent contained on Saturday, a day after authorities ordered the evacuation of between 150 and 200 houses in Tepusquet Canyon outside the town of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Gina DePinto said.

The top priority of a beefed-up force of 1,000 firefighters is protecting those houses, she said, while aiming to stop the blaze from reaching wineries to the south and electric transmission lines to the southeast.

So far, the Alamo Fire has not destroyed any houses or caused any major injuries, DePinto said by phone. 



Heavy rainfall in parts of the West over the winter and spring helped delay the onset of the fire season, but also spurred the growth of dense vegetation that has dried out and become highly combustible in summertime heat.

Temperatures in the Southern Californian resort city of Palm Springs climbed to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) on Friday, breaking a record high for that date set in 1976, according to the National Weather Service.

Another high mark was set across the border in Nevada, where Las Vegas baked in 116 degree (47 degrees Celsius) heat.

Excessive heat in desert regions in the U.S. Southwest could pose a threat to human life through Saturday night, according to a National Weather Service advisory.

Daily temperature records in several cities in the U.S. West may be tied or broken on Saturday, the Weather Service said.

By Sunday, high temperatures are forecast to reach the Plains states, including North and South Dakota and Iowa.



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