Western Wildfires Force Evacuations
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) _ A wildfire destroyed a house and four outbuildings and forced about 250 people to flee as it roared across rolling, oak-studded hills.
The blaze was 60 percent contained Monday after charring 1,500 acres near the community of Santa Margarita, said California Department of Forestry dispatcher Corrin Clark.
About 200 other homes and 50 outbuildings had been threatened as high temperatures and wind help spot fires erupt, she said. The blaze was located in brushy cattle country about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. Full containment was expected Tuesday.
The fire, reported Sunday afternoon, was caused by a spark from an off-road vehicle, and the driver was cited for having a modified exhaust system, said Nena Portillo of the California Department of Forestry.
Farther south, a fire that charred more than 18,000 acres of brush in eastern San Diego County was 50 percent contained Monday, fire officials said. The fire was started by lightning on July 16. Full containment is expected Wednesday.
In Montana, hundreds of firefighters battled range fires that have burned across 62,500 acres of the rugged Missouri River Breaks of the northcentral part of the state.
About 50 people were evacuated from ranches as the fire blackened stands of ponderosa pine and charred pastures and hayfields. But calmer, cooler weather appeared to give fire crews a break.
Elsewhere, a wildfire burned about 1,000 acres of timber and grasslands in eastern Washington state, destroying 14 vehicles and some outbuildings. The fire was located about five miles southwest of Cheney, Wash.
The cause of the blaze, which began Sunday afternoon, was not known.
It was one of several wildfires in central and eastern Washington. Temperatures were expected to reach as high as 103 degrees in the eastern part of the state on Monday. No injuries were reported at any of the fires.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, park officials reopened Mesa Verde National Park on Monday for the first time since six days, even though firefighters were still battling a 2,600-acre wildfire that was 10 percent contained.
All the park’s archaeological features were reopening, but a campground and shops about four miles inside the park’s main entrance remain closed because firefighting operations are based there, spokeswoman Kathy Crepinsek said.
In eastern Arizona, rain had calmed the 22,550-acre wildfire on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, where hundreds of residents were evacuated for part of last week. No homes were damaged and none were threatened Monday, officials said.
That fire was 65 percent contained Monday and firefighters hope to have it fully contained by Wednesday, said Kami Goklish, a spokeswoman for the team fighting the fire.
Fires also were active Monday in Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
On the Net:
Nat’l Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/