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Washington wildfire blackens more than 30,000 acres in less than a day

by Bevan Hurley, The Independent |

GOLDENDALE, Wash. – A large wildfire raging unchecked in Washington State forced residents to evacuate Saturday after burning 30,000 acres of land in less than 24 hours.

The Newell Road Wildfire destroyed several structures near Bickleton in Klickitat County, and is threatening homes, solar and wind farms, wheat fields, a gas pipeline and livestock, emergency officials said in a statement.

Residents across a large swathe of the county were issued with a “go now” order to immediately evacuate their homes Saturday.

Washington Department of Natural Resources spokesman Allen Lebovitz told Reuters that terrain and weather conditions were complicating efforts to fight the wildfire.

“We are under a red flag warning. That’s a firefighter’s worst nightmare because the humidity is dropping precipitously,” Lebovitz said. “The winds are picking up, and so the fire carries extremely fast.”

The fire is also threatening homes in the Yakama Indian Reservation, a community of about 80 residents about 120 miles east of Portland, Ore., Lebovitz said.

The fire started at 2.45 p.m. Friday and exploded in size in a matter of hours, tearing through 30,000 acres, according to officials.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and no deaths or injuries have been reported.

Some 29 wildfires are burning across seven states including Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Smoke from hundreds of wildfires in western and central Canada is blowing across the US border into the Upper Midwest and is expected to drift across northern Minnesota and the Great Lakes by Monday.

Around the world, larger, more intense and erratic wildfires are being fuelled by extreme heat and drought.

Temperatures have entered uncharted territory this summer due to an emerging El Niño warming pattern and the ever-worsening climate crisis, driven by the burning of fossil fuels. June was the planet’s hottest month in human history, and July looks set to at least match that record.

A dangerous heat wave bringing record high temperatures has struck across the southwestern United States this summer.