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Evacuations ordered after two California wildfires converge into one

SACRAMENTO: Crews and officials are battling a large fire that burned more than 190,000 acres (77,000 hectares) in northern California, preparing for the plumes of smoke on Sunday to trigger thunderstorms that could ignite more fires.

There was a massive Dixie fire in Butte County, north of Sacramento, on Saturday, and only 21 percent were contained as of Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Dixie fire linked up with another nearby on Saturday night, and firefighters struggled to contain the fires that prompted evacuations in several localities.

“There is a high likelihood that what we call a pyrophor (cloud) is forming in the plumes of smoke,” fire behavior analyst Dennis Byrne said in a video message posted on the Lassen National Park Facebook page.

Major fires such as the Dixie Fire and the Oregon Bootleg Fire, the massive blaze that has blacked over 408,000 acres and has been localized 46 percent as of Sunday, can sometimes spawn its own weather like thunderstorms.

When the Dixie fire broke out, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuation orders from the eastern shore of Lake Almanor, where “officers conduct door-to-door notices.”

An evacuation shelter has been established in the city of Susanville, and evacuation warnings have been issued in five other areas.

In Oregon, crews battling a Bootleg fire faced the “warmest and driest” day over the next few days, fire officials said in an update released Sunday.

More than 2,200 people fought Bootleg’s fire, according to representatives of the inter-agency task force.

“The evacuation is dynamic,” officials said, publishing an interactive map with warnings such as “Go (leave immediately)” and “Prepare (prepare to leave at any time).”

The Boise, Idaho, National Inter-Agency Fire Center (NIFC) fire is one of more than 86 active wildfires in 12 states that have charred more than 1.4 million acres in recent weeks.

The wildfires in the western United States, marking a harder-than-usual start to the bushfire season, coincided with record heat waves that have burned much of the region and claimed hundreds of lives in recent weeks. – Reuters

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