• Arizona megafire burning out of control, thousands evacuated

    Arizona emergency crews are working to put out a massive wildfire.

    The blaze, dubbed the Bush Fire, ignited last Saturday and has more than doubled in size since Wednesday morning. It has burned more than 150,000 acres, so far.

    Now defined as a megafire – because it has already burned more than 40,500 hectares (100,000 acres) of land – the seventh largest fire in state history burns out-of-control and is only seven percent contained, ravaging parts of the Tonto National Forrest, just northeast of Phoenix.

    The ‘Bush Fire’ has grown dramatically in size from 59 square miles to 101 square miles as of Tuesday morning officials said.

    The good news is no homes nor businesses have been destroyed, but some worry it is just a matter of time, as evacuations have been implemented in multiple towns and officials are urging residents to evacuate to nearby shelters.

    The wildfire has forced evacuation of thousands of people in several rural communities in Maricopa and Gila counties and closed parts of numbers of roads, among others State Route 87, or the Beeline Highway, from Payson to Bush Highway and State Route 188 from the 87 junctions to Roosevelt.

    While residents are evacuating their homes, the Red Cross has been setting up shelters. Moreover, many Arizonans from Punkin Center, Sunflower, and Apache Lake are now sleeping in motels.

    As 440 firefighters desperately try to squelch the inferno, hundreds more are praying for them. “I think everybody is just terrified and hoping they will get it out in time before the residences are lost,” said Hill. “Let’s stop it on the highway, please. And before the homes.

    Fire officials say the fire started due to a car issue on the side of the highway.

    Other fires burning in Arizona and California

    Meanwhile, other major fires also are burning across the state amid hot, windy and dry conditions, including two that also have prompted evacuations of threatened rural communities in several other parts of both Arizona and California.

    The two other major fires in Arizona spread in the Santa Catalina Mountains overlooking Tucson in southern Arizona (BigHorn Fire) and in the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona (Mangum Fire):

    • Near Tucson, hotshot crews were able to gain 30% containment of the 14,686-acre Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains as of Monday night. 
    • The Mangum Fire has burned for over a week near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, overtaking more than 29,000 acres in the Kaibab National Forest with 3% containment as of Monday.

  • Siberian Wildfire Smoke Travels 5000 Miles to Pacific N.W Skies

    The smoke from wildfires raging in Siberia have drifted into the Pacific Northwest this week, causing haze in the skies.

    Upper level winds are picking up the smoke from the fires and pushing it 5,000 miles across the North Pacific and into cities along the U.S. West coast.

    Last week, the Caribbean and the East coast of the U.S. was engulfed by Saharan dust. And this week, cities along the Pacific Northwest get hazy skies from smoke from fires currently raging in Siberia. And that smoke will stay around for a few days.

    Here a map showing the current fires in Siberia:

    Map of fires in Siberia. Picture: Global Forest Fire Watch

    Here a map by NASA showing the smoke and its 5,000 miles long travel towards the Pacific Northwest:

    Siberian wildfires smoke engulfs Canada and the United States Pacific coast. Picture: NASA, SWE

    Not only has Siberia had to contend with smoke and fire, but hot weather, too. Temperatures hit 100 in the arctic town of Verkhoyansk two weeks ago and Siberia has been beyond unseasonably warm this year, which has concerned scientists.

    The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire – it’s warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires,” University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, told The Associated Press in a recent email.

    Siberia experiences extreme temperatures throughout the year – from well below freezing to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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