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Wildfires rage through California amid heat rage

AP  |  Los Angeles 

Firefighters toiled in stifling heat on the lines of destructive wildfires across the West, making progress against some blazes while struggling to tame others that have forced evacuations of hundreds of homes.

In heat-stricken Southern California, powerful winds that sent an overnight inferno hopscotching through the community of Goleta vanished in the morning, allowing firefighters to extinguish smoldering ruins of an estimated 20 structures, including homes.

Authorities announced that mandatory evacuation orders were being greatly reduced and many of the 2,500 people who fled Friday night would be able to return home by late afternoon.

thanked residents for heeding the call to evacuate, allowing firefighters to focus on fire suppression rather than rescues.

"There very likely would have been fatalities last night had those evacuations not occurred," Peterson said.

The fire's spread was stopped at about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) in a neighborhood where some houses were in ruins while homes next door were intact.

stood outside his destroyed house, where a stood in the driveway and kids' bicycles were strewn about.

Durtschi, his wife and six children had left and moved in just a few weeks ago. He said he hadn't yet told his two oldest children their home was gone.

He managed to collect his severely burned vintage guns, hoping to salvage them.

A neighbor's home across the street was spared. The man had stayed through the night spraying down other people's houses.

Elsewhere in Southern California, firefighters increased containment of a central fire that rapidly spread over 400 acres (162 hectares), destroyed 18 structures and damaged eight, and a in the was holding at 1.5 square miles (404 hectares) and forced evacuation of about 700 homes in the mountain community of

Fires also burned on the Marine Corps' sprawling Camp Pendleton base in northern

Among new fires Saturday, a blaze erupted on a steep mountain slope just above the suburb of Burbank and helicopters pounded it with water to try to keep it from getting out of hand.

Southern fires began erupting Friday as strong high pressure over the West spawned an epic heat wave that saw parts of broil in temperatures up to 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius). There was little relief overnight.

"Temperatures at 8 a.m. were ridiculously over 100 degrees" in foothills near and many inland valleys, the said. Forecasters said the region's siege of heat would gradually ease through the weekend, but the unstable air mass unleashed downpours that triggered flash-flood warnings for the mountains northeast of

Further up north and just south of the California-border, the 34-square-mile (88-square-kilometer) Klamathon Fire in rural was just 5 percent contained. The body of a resident was found Friday in the ruins of a home, among 15 destroyed structures tallied so far.

Authorities described "extreme fire behavior with movement in multiple directions," with threats to the communities of Hornbrook and Hilt as well as Colestin, Ray Haupt, of the county Board of Supervisors, said losses included homes and livestock.

Elsewhere in California, the 138-square-mile (357-square-kilometer) County Fire northwest of was more than half contained Saturday. Ten structures were counted destroyed but damage assessments were continuing. With fires occurring statewide, a Colorado-based 747-400 supertanker was deployed to

Scott McLean, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the supertanker was undergoing checks at an airfield outside

Software issues needed to be resolved before the aircraft owned by Global SuperTanker Services of Springs could be activated under a call-when-needed contract.

In Utah, meanwhile, authorities allowed the return of some residents who fled a near a popular fishing lake 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of The blaze has burned about 75 square miles (193 square kilometers) and destroyed 90 structures, including homes, cabins, sheds and garages, since starting Sunday in the mountains.

In Colorado, firefighters took advantage of occasional rainstorms to extend their containment lines at several large wildfires.

In the south, crews Saturday contained about 45 percent of a 167-square-mile (433-square-kilometer) fire that has destroyed more than 130 homes, while in ski country firefighters from 20 states were battling an 8-square-mile (22-square-kilometer) above the Valley. Commanders said they hoped for one-third containment by late Sunday.

Crews also had 50 percent containment of a fire that has blackened 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) north of Durango. Authorities said Saturday that afternoon storms could produce floods and mudslides in burn scars.

And in central Colorado's Park County, crews encircled a third of a spotty fire that forced the Buffalo Creek Wilderness to close. A stretch of busy Highway 285 between Fairplay and Antero Junction reopened Saturday.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, July 08 2018. 10:20 IST