Wildfires Consume Acreage in California and Arizona

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 5 (UPI) — Wildfires churned through acreage in California and Arizona, burning homes, forcing school closures and prompting evacuations.

In California, communities in the eastern San Gabriel Mountains were under a mandatory evacuation as the wind-driven Sheep Fire destroyed four homes and was within a half-mile of Wrightwood, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles reported Monday.

U.S. Forest Service officials reported the fire ate 7,500 acres and was 20 percent contained by Sunday evening. Weather forecasters predicted Monday would see less gusty winds and a chance of drizzle. Some 4,000 to 6,000 residents are affected by the evacuation orders, officials said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County, freeing up state resources to fight the blaze.

“The fire is erratic and unpredictable,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller. “The fire spread greater than expected.”

Schools in Williams, Ariz., closed Monday because of a fire that has burned about 1,000 acres and forced the evacuation of more than 60 residents, the Arizona Republic reported.

The fire began Friday and has been marching toward Williams, a city of 3,300 residents 100 miles north of Phoenix. Fire crews lost control of a prescribed burn in the Kaibab National Forest.

“The city of Williams has been threatened and that remains until we can ensure the lines are going to hold,” fire department spokesman Punky Moore said Sunday. “The winds will play a role in that today.”

Bill Williams Mountain, a popular hiking area, and Kaibab Lake Recreation Area were closed to visitors. Kaibab National Forest was open but Moore urged recreational forest users to call ahead.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Other, Wind
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