December 1, 2020

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High Temperatures Fuel Wildfires Across Western U.S. (PHOTOS)

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In this photo provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, the Nelson Fire burns Wednesday, June 17, 2020, near Oroville, Calif. Some residents of a Northern California county devastated by wildfire in 2018 are under evacuation orders because of a grass fire that has so far destroyed four homes. An evacuation order for parts of Oroville was issued after noon and the cause of the fire is under investigation. A 2018 wildfire in Butte County killed 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 homes and buildings. (California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention via AP)

High temperatures and dry weather are fueling wildfires throughout the West, prompting evacuations and road closures. Gusty winds also helped to fuel the fires over the past week.

Northeast of Mesa, Arizona, the Bush Fire, which is now the largest active wildfire in the country, grew to more than 236 square miles by Friday. The fire was 7% contained as of Friday afternoon, according to an incident report.

The fire forced the closure of State Highway 87 from Bush Highway to Highway 188. State Highway 188 was closed from Highway 87 to Highway 88.

The human-caused fire remains under investigation.

(MORE: Wildfires Prompt Evacuations, Road Closures in Arizona, Colorado, California)

Thursday afternoon, residents of the Willow Canyon area of Mt. Lemmon were ordered to evacuate as the Bighorn Fire raged north of Tucson. The fire, which was sparked by a lightning strike on June 5, has burned nearly 48 square miles and was 40% contained as of late Thursday, according to an incident report.

Earlier in the week, officials ordered evacuations for Mt. Lemmon and Mt. Bigelow north of Organization Ridge Road, including the community of Summerhaven.

The region is still under a red flag warning as winds gust up to 35 mph in the region.

Another fire, dubbed the Mangum Fire, grew to 88 square miles in Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Thursday incident reports said the fire was only 3% contained.

Wind gusts up to 30 mph are expected on Thursday, elevating fire weather conditions in the area.

While the fire is not within Grand Canyon National Park, the North Rim of the park is closed until further notice because of the proximity of the fire. The Arizona Department of Transportation closed Highway 89A from Marble Canyon to Fredonia and Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon.

The East Canyon Fire in southwestern Colorado was 4% contained by Thursday, after the fire grew by more than four square miles. Evacuations remain in place for the Elk Springs subdivision and Cherry Creek Road in La Plata County.

In Butte County, California, the Nelson Fire destroyed three homes and damaged two others on Wednesday.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order in sections of Oroville, which were lifted around 6 p.m. Wednesday. CalFire reported the fire 100% contained by late that night.

By Thursday morning, California’s Avila Fire near San Luis Obispo was about 90% contained, according to Firefighters were hoping to have the fire fully contained by 6 p.m. Thursday. The fire burned just one structure and burned less than a square mile.

Photos in the slideshow above show fire trucks and helicopters responding to the blazes. Click through the slideshow to see images of the fires as responders work to battle the flames.

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