Drought-fueled wildfires raging across western states
CNN Video (CNN) – Dozens of wildfires tore across wide swaths of Alaska, California, Colorado and other western states Wednesday, with meteorologists warning of more blazes due to strong winds, dry conditions and low humidity.
About 70 fires have consumed around 700,000 acres, from Alaska — where 19 large blazes were reported — to California, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, where at least six wildfires continue to burn in each state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
The risk of new fires throughout the drought-stricken Western US remains high amid the expected use of fireworks by revelers over the Fourth of July holiday.
Ed Delgaldo, the center’s national program manager for predictive services, said in a video on the agency’s website that significant drought conditions across the Four Corners region — the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico — have persisted heading into the peak summer months.
Gary Herbert issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for all of Utah because of the wildfire threat.
In addition, hundreds of central Colorado residents were unable to dial 911 on Tuesday because of a Verizon and Charter phone outage attributed to the fire, the station reported.
On Saturday, Jesper Joergensen, 52, was arrested on arson charges linked to the Spring Creek fire, the Costilla County Sheriff’s Office said.
Joergensen, who is not a US citizen, will remain in detention until he has put up bond or has completed all judicial processes, after which he will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Matt Booth told KCNC that their family’s historic summer home in La Veta, Colorado had been reduced to rubble in the fire.
Cal Fire reported that in northern California’s Yolo County, a wildfire that started Saturday afternoon had grown to 70,000 acres and was 5% contained, according to CNN affiliate KCRA.