Fires, blazing heat batter western U.S.
Temperatures in Death Valley, Calif., hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend—the hottest on record since 1913. The Beckwourth Complex fires north of Lake Tahoe increased in size to 86 square miles on Saturday and were only 8 percent contained. The fires burned so hot that on Friday, rising heat formed a gigantic, smoky pyrocumulus cloud that reached thousands of feet high and created its own lightning, fire information officer Lisa Cox said. The air was so dry that some of the water dropped by aircraft evaporated before reaching the ground, she added.
How are the heat and fires affecting people? The Beckwourth Complex prompted evacuation orders or warnings for roughly 2,800 people and the closure of nearly 200 square miles of Plumas National Forest. The National Weather Service warned high temperatures in the area could cause heat-related illnesses, while California’s power grid operator asked customers to voluntarily conserve electricity to avoid outages and rolling blackouts. Crews also fought wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho over the weekend.
Dig deeper: Listen to Sarah Schweinsberg’s report on The World and Everything in It podcast about the lone surviving member of an elite firefighting crew.
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