National Forests Close as California Wildfires Surge

by Jennifer Shea

On Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service said it is closing nine national forests beginning on Aug. 22. The closures are due to expanding wildfires in the region.

The roughly 1 million acres of national forests affected stretch from near Lake Tahoe at the Nevada border west to Six Rivers National Forest along the Oregon border, the Associated Press reports.

More than 100 active wildfires are currently burning through over a dozen Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Some scientists say climate change is fueling heat waves and drought that have gotten markedly worse over the last 30 years. And they claim that it will contribute to more severe wildfires in the years ahead.

In California, more than 10,000 firefighters are struggling to contain the flames.

The Caldor Fire Menaces National Forests

The Eldorado National Forest had been closed previously thanks to the Caldor fire. The fire has destroyed over 100 square miles of land. It torched the Sierra Nevada town of Grizzly Flats earlier this week.

The fire ballooned to 10 times its initial size over the course of two days. But it eased up a bit on Thursday. Approximately 25,000 people are still under evacuation orders.

More than 650 firefighters and 13 helicopters are battling the fire, and air tankers from all over the state have been flying fire suppression missions when they can, authorities told the AP. Still, the fire has continued to grow in the forested region southwest of Lake Tahoe.

“The hope is with the additional resources and personnel on scene, we can really start to build that box around this fire and start the containment,” Keith Wade of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The Dixie Fire Is Still Not Out

Meanwhile, the Dixie Fire, which has been raging since July 13 across the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade mountains, is only 35% contained.

The fire has grown to 1,060 square miles. And it recently became the first in recorded state history to run east to west all the way across the Sierra Nevadas. It has torched more than 1,200 buildings, 649 of those being people’s homes, reducing to ashes the town of Greenville.

There have been multiple injuries but so far no deaths from the dangerous wilfires. However, three years ago a wildfire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people in Butte County.

The U.S. Forest Service has turned to Canada, Mexico and Australia for help, the AP reports. But they already have their hands full fighting the wildfires in Canada.