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California wildfire containment improves as heat wave intensifies

July 8, 2024

Wildfire containment improves in California

Firefighters have made substantial progress in combating the Thompson Fire near Oroville, California, leading to the lifting of evacuation orders for approximately 17,000 residents.

As reported by AP News, containment of the wildfire has increased from 29% to 46% overnight, despite recent damage assessments raising the number of destroyed structures to 25.

Cal Fire Captain Alejandro Cholico commended the efforts of firefighters, noting the effective enforcement of containment lines and the lack of wind contributing to their success.

The fire, which now spans nearly 6 square miles (15.5 square kilometers), began on Tuesday morning and is located approximately 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Sacramento.

New wildfire ignites near Mariposa

On Thursday evening, a new fire named the French Fire ignited, prompting evacuations in Mariposa, a historic Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Firefighters, using bulldozers, swiftly constructed a containment line along the eastern perimeter of the town.

The fire spread over 1.3 square miles (3.4 square kilometers) before its activity diminished.

A Cal Fire status report highlighted the reduced wind conditions, stating: “Winds have calmed, which has helped firefighters make progress overnight.” The Thompson Fire has also caused damage to six additional structures, although specifics remain unknown.

The number of firefighter injuries has decreased from four to two, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Heat wave exacerbates fire risks along West Coast

Weather forecasters have warned that the intense heat wave in California is expected to persist and extend into the Pacific Northwest and neighboring western states.

The National Weather Service reported: “The duration of this heat is also concerning as scorching above-average temperatures are forecast to linger into next week.”

In Death Valley National Park, forecasts predict extreme temperatures, with Furnace Creek expected to reach 129 degrees Fahrenheit (53.89 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, rising to around 130 degrees (54.44 degrees Celsius) through Wednesday.

The world record for the hottest temperature recorded on Earth is 134 degrees (56.67 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, July 1913, though some experts assert the true record is 130 degrees recorded in July 2021.

New Jersey forest fire update

In southern New Jersey, a fast-moving forest fire has burned several hundred acres in the Wharton State Forest.

The fire, reported early Friday, is believed to have started near the Batona Campground in Tabernacle, which has been evacuated.

No injuries have been reported, but a nearby hunting club and a residence may be at risk.

Authorities have closed multiple roads in the area as firefighters employ a backfire operation to prevent the fire’s spread.

The cause of the New Jersey fire is still under investigation.

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