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Fires rage in several states as heat wave sears US West

“The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, tweeted Sunday.

SNS | California |

A north California fire continued to engulf on Sunday and forced the temporary closure of a major highway and firefighters struggle in searing weather.

This was one of the several large infernos across the US West amid another heat wave that has set new records and strained power grids.

In Arizona, a small plane crashed on Saturday in rural Mohave County, killing both crew members on board.

The Beech C-90 reconnaissance aircraft flying over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire, near the tiny community of Wikieup northwest of Phoenix, went down around noon.

The victims were identified as Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the U.S. Forest Service.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

In California, officials asked all residents to reduce power consumption quickly after a major wildfire in southern Oregon snapped interstate power lines, preventing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity from flowing south into the state.

“The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, tweeted Sunday.

Pushed by strong winds, the blaze exploded to 224 580 square km as it raced through heavy timber in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest, near the Klamath County town of Sprague River.

To the southeast, the largest wildfire of the year in California was raging near the border with Nevada.

The Beckwourth Complex Fire showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

Late Saturday, flames jumped U.S. 395, which was closed near the small town of Doyle in California’s Lassen County. The lanes reopened Sunday.

Bob Prary, who manages the Buck-Inn Bar in the town of about 600 people, said he saw at least six houses destroyed after Saturday’s flareup. The fire was smoldering Sunday in and around Doyle, but he feared some remote ranch properties were still in danger.

“The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,” the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, tweeted Sunday.

Pushed by strong winds, the blaze exploded to 224 580 square km as it raced through heavy timber in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest, near the Klamath County town of Sprague River.

To the southeast, the largest wildfire of the year in California was raging near the border with Nevada.

The Beckwourth Complex Fire — a combination of two lightning-caused blazes burning 72 km north of Lake Tahoe — showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

Late Saturday, flames jumped U.S. 395, which was closed near the small town of Doyle in California’s Lassen County. The lanes reopened Sunday.

Cagle said structures had burned in Doyle, but he didn’t have an exact number. Bob Prary, who manages the Buck-Inn Bar in the town of about 600 people, said he saw at least six houses destroyed after Saturday’s flareup. The fire was smoldering Sunday in and around Doyle, but he feared some remote ranch properties were still in danger.