They were among more than 100 large wildfires burning in a dozen Western states seared by drought and hot, bone-dry weather that has turned forests, brushlands, meadows and pastures into tinder.
The U.S. Forest Service said Friday it’s operating in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maxing out its support system.
The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number of firefighters sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago, and the agency is facing “critical resources limitations,” said Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region.
More than 6,000 firefighters alone were battling the Dixie Fire, which has destroyed more than 1,000 homes, businesses and other structures and was the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. Its flames have ravaged more than 800 square miles — an area larger than the city of London.
There also was a danger of new fires erupting because of unstable weather conditions, including a chance of thunderstorms that could bring lightning to northern California, Oregon and Nevada, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
“Mother nature just kind of keeps throwing us obstacles our way,” said Edwin Zuniga, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which was working with the Forest Service to tamp out the Dixie Fire.
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