The fires resumed their frantic race across the U.S. West on Monday, and a California electricity supplier – already responsible for the state’s deadliest fire – was blamed at the start of some of those fires.
The fire season has just begun and 80 large fires are already raging across the United States, where they have eaten more than 4,700 km² of vegetation.
Firefighters are particularly worried about the progress of the Tamarack fire, which suddenly gained momentum south of Lake Tahoe, spreading to California and Nevada. Authorities ordered residents of several villages to evacuate the area, and part of the Pacific Crest Trail, one of America’s most popular hiking trails, had to be closed.
For the ninth day in a row, about 2,100 firefighters also took turns in Oregon trying to contain the Bootleg fire, a fire that was already larger than the entire city of Los Angeles. These firefighters work “night and day,” assured Joe Hessel, in charge of fire management in the area.
“This fire is a real plague and we are preparing for an intense fight” in the coming days, he announced.
Thunderstorm forecasts, with still very hot, dry and windy weather, should make their task more difficult.
Very close to California, the fire also threatens the state’s electricity grid, and authorities want to prevent millions of people from falling into darkness at all costs, as was the case in previous years when the grid was too low.
– Defective lines –
Especially since California’s major electricity supplier, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), itself has been accused of being the source of a major fire in the state, Dixie Fire, according to a preliminary investigation.
Already, this electricity supplier has pleaded guilty to causing the deadliest fire in recent California history, due to faulty power lines, very close to where Dixie Fire is ravaged.
Camp Fire nearly wiped out the town of Paradise from the map and killed 86 people.
San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric has been accused for years of putting profits and its shareholders ahead of public safety, obsolete facilities and repeated omissions in maintaining and clearing high-voltage lines.
The group is “collaborating in the California Fire Department investigation” around Dixie Fire, the group told AFP.
In Canada, the province of British Columbia, in the west of the country, still records about 300 forest fires on its territory. More than 2,500 residences were targeted on Monday by an evacuation order, while 15,500 others are under evacuation warning, with no obligation at this time. The province has recorded 13 more fires in the past 48 hours.