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Two wildfires that hit California threatens homes and could result in the evacuation of hundreds of people, US officials say.
In the Sacramento region, a fire has spread to cover an area of about 4,000 acres, while another blaze threatens homes around Yosemite National Park.
The Sacramento fire is only 20% contained, officials told local media.
Months of drought have caused more fires in California this year – some 1,400, twice the usual number.
Two fast-moving wildfires in California are threatening homes and could result in the evacuation of hundreds of people
The Sacramento fire in the north of the state has doubled in size since it broke out on Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported officials as saying.
About 515 homes were evacuated as the blaze tore its way through drought-hit grassland.
“The fire’s moving in and around homes in the area,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynn Tolmachoff told the AP news agency.
“The leading edge is bumping up against residences as we speak.”
Nearly 1,500 fire fighters and aircraft that included a DC-10 air tanker are battling the blaze, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and reduced air quality in the Sacramento area.
Officials at dusk on Saturday said that cooler weather and less wind had brought some respite.
Meanwhile a 500-acre fire that started on Saturday afternoon is threatening homes in Yosemite.
Evacuations are reported to have been ordered in Foresta, a community of about 45 homes inside the national park where many employees of the park live.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state-wide drought, urging residents to conserve water in what could be the state’s driest year on record.
The declaration also means farmers will receive aid and more firefighters will be employed.
Jerry Brown faced pressure to declare the drought as the state’s largest reservoirs are at record low levels.
The dry conditions have been blamed for a wildfire that destroyed five homes north-east of Los Angeles on Thursday.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state-wide drought, urging residents to conserve water in what could be the state’s driest year on record
In a press conference on Friday, Jerry Brown called on residents to cut back “at least 20%” on their water usage but said the move was voluntary.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens,” Jerry Brown said in a statement.
He added the declaration was a way to focus Californians on how serious the drought conditions were.
“We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation that people should pause and reflect on how dependent we are on the rain, nature and one other,” he said on CNN.
Previous extremely dry years led to catastrophic wildfire seasons in California in 2003 and 2007.
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Australia wildfires claimed one life and destroyed at least 100 homes in New South Wales after forcing thousands to evacuate their homes.
Authorities warned on Friday more homes could be lost as fires burned out of control.
The blazes are continuing to burn on the outskirts of Sydney, despite the easing of temperatures and winds.
One man has died while trying to protect his home.
PM Tony Abbott visited Winmalee in the Blue Mountains, one of the areas worst-hit by the fires, around 45 miles west of Sydney.
Correspondents say bushfires are common in Australia but they have come earlier than normal this year, sparking concerns of further problems to come.
Australia wildfires claimed one life and destroyed at least 100 homes in New South Wales after forcing thousands to evacuate their homes
Hundreds of residents spent Thursday night in evacuation centres, with many returning home to find their houses razed.
Fire fighters described blazes as tall as 60 to 100ft.
A 63-year-old man died from a heart attack as he tried to defend his home in Lake Munmorah, in the Central Coast region of NSW, on Thursday afternoon.
Around 2,000 fire fighters across the state worked to try and contain the fires but many are still burning out of control.
PM Tony Abbott, in Winmalee, said of those helping to battle the fires: “These are ordinary people who, on an extraordinary day, come together to support their community and to protect their fellow Australians.”
At least three fire fighters have been reported injured.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said an initial assessment of the Winmalee and Springwood areas showed that 81 properties had been destroyed, with 37 damaged.
“Approximately 30% of the fireground has been assessed,” it said.
“The number of properties destroyed or damaged will rise.”
Reports estimate that as many as 200 homes could be lost in total.
The fires have been caused by unseasonably hot temperatures and strong winds. While these have now died down, more hot weather is forecast next week.
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Firefighters in Greece are battling a large forest fire sweeping across the eastern Aegean island of Chios.
The fire began in the early hours of Saturday and has been fuelled by gale force winds.
Authorities said that by Monday the blaze had destroyed about 7,000 hectares (16,000 acres) of forest and farmland.
Residents of nine villages and hamlets were evacuated from their homes over the weekend as the fire approached.
Firefighters in Greece are battling a large forest fire sweeping across the eastern Aegean island of Chios
Chios lies north-east of the capital, Athens, off the coast of Turkey.
The island is famous for its production of mastic, a natural, gum-like resin with a distinctive flavor produced only by trees on certain sections of the island.
Used as a natural chewing gum, a cooking spice and for pharmaceutical and cooking purposes, mastic resin is a major source of income for the islanders.
The strong winds were hampering efforts to extinguish the fires, despite the presence of several hundred firefighters, soldiers and volunteers, as well as firefighting planes and helicopters.
Wildfires are common during Greece’s long, hot summers, though some are believed to be started on purpose.
A further five forest and brush fires broke out on Monday across Greece, the Associated Press news agency reports, while fire crews continued to fight six fires already burning in other parts of the country.
The government has requested the assistance of water-bombing aircraft from Spain and Italy to help with the summer blazes.
Residents evacuated because of Bastrop Texas wildfire hopefully will be allowed to return to their properties by Thursday, public safety officials said.
Firefighter from the Lassen National Forest cleans up hot spots in Bastrop Texas (AP Photo/Eric Schlegel - Pool)
Depending on conditions, the re-entry plan might change. People in Tahitian Village will be allowed back in Wednesday. The Bastrop Convention Center continues to serve as a communications center for evacuees.
Circle D, Pine Valley, KC Estates and Pine Hill Estates opened on Monday and the road blocks were removed on Highway 21. All communities are scheduled to open until Thursday.
Texas Task Force 1 has completed an entire grid search of the burn zone on Monday. Two people are missing, Arlene Page and Steve Ingram. Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering do not think they have perished in the fire. “We don’t know if they’re actual residents. It may just be a summer home or something like that,” he said.
Aqua Water Supply are disinfecting water system on Monday and water should be drinkable without boiling by Tuesday afternoon. Bluebonnet Electric restored power to some homes, but those in the heavily damaged areas may not receive power until September 21.
1,350 firefighters struggles to contain the wildfire, while power and water are cut off to some areas. There are still some hot spots, fallen power lines and trees need to be cleared out while crews are trying to restore power. The fire was more than 70 percent contained, said Texas Forest Service.
A DC-10 airplane drops retardant near Magnolia, Montgomery, Texas, to help fight a large wildfire almost like ones in Bastrop Texas (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool)
The recovery program begins in Bastrop Texas.
Home destroyed in Bastrop Texas, the management of debris is very important (Doug Shupe/KXAN)
Barack Obama signed the federal disaster declaration late Friday night, then federal funds, resources and Federal Emergency Management Agency support for the victims were available for Texas.
On Sunday night the FEMA started a temporary shelter and assistance program and made wildfire victims eligible for money to pay for nights in a hotel. Rick Perry has launched a similar program this weekend. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest disaster loans both to businesses and individuals affected by fire.
The debris management is very important, fallen trees have to be removed and destroyed properties will require removing large amounts of burned building materials.
On Monday children returned to school in Bastrop Texas. Schools re-opened in the Bastrop and Smithville school districts.
Bastrop Independent School District headquarters received donations of backpacks, pencils, notebooks and binders and distributed to the children.
Buses picked kids up outside their homes or made detours to shelter hotels. The school district provided breakfast and lunch for all students.
Only 6 percent of pupils were absent because were left homeless, moved in with relatives in other communities, or fell ill with smoke inhalation or other fire-related problems.
“Today has really been a smooth day. A lot of smiles from the kids. It looked from afar mostly like a normal day, except for a few more hugs and a little extra loving and attention,” said Martha Werner, principal of Mina Elementary School.
Massive damages in Bastrop Texas (Eric Gay/AP)
Over 5,000 people were evacuated by the most destructive blaze that has covered drought-stricken Texas since Labor Day weekend. Hundreds of families are homeless and lots of people remained just with little more than the clothes which they were wearing.
Fed by winds whipped up by Tropical Storm Lee, over 190 wildfires statewide have burned thousands homes and killed four people. In Bastrop Texas two small fires has formed a dreadful blaze, Bastrop County Complex fire, that has destroyed more than an estimated 1,554 homes and blackened over 34,000 acres, heavily damaging Lost Pines and Bastrop State Park.
There is an urgent need of a federal disaster declaration to help respond to wildfires throughout the state, said David Dewhurst on Friday, after almost a week of major wildfire in Bastrop Texas.
The major wildfire blackened most of Bastrop Texas (AP)
David Dewhurst said the last 10 months since fire season began in November had been the driest in the state since 1895.
“We need help yesterday,” he said.
Rick Perry left Texas on Wedneday to attend a television debate and now he is raising funds in California. David Dewhurst is Texas Lt. Governor and since Perry left he is acting governor. He said there had been no response to the statewide disaster declaration request, although White House said Obama administration had approved seven federal grants. A disaster declaration gives Texas access to heavy equipment, personnel, supplies and other support needed after almost 300 days of wildfires, thus Dewhurst has signed another request. Obama administration has approved a limited disaster declaration for fires in April and May, but Texas has huge problems since January, Dewhurst said.
However, Federal Emergency Management Agency were getting disaster declarations for specific counties, including Bastrop Texas.
Around 1,400 homes have been burnt to the ground in the last week. Important wildfires are in Travis, Grimes, Cass, Montgomery and Waller counties, Texas Forest Service said.
Some residents were allowed to return to their home places to evaluate the damages, but others are getting frustrated because they are still not permitted to go to survey their property. County Judge Ronnie McDonald said main priority was getting people secure.
Bastrop Texas: a gas leak burns in a ruined house (Reuters)
Texas Task Force 1 is searching the area for victims, until now the deaths toll in Bastrop Texas is two.
One of the dead people was identified as Michael Troy Farr, 48, who was found Tuesday at his home on Hudson Drive near Smithville. He was a master electrician in Austin and since 2003.
The wildfires have been very uncommon this year due to drought, hottest summer, Tropical Storm Lee, the massive growth in Texas’ population (doubled since 1970), urbanization, and cultivation of non-native plants which burn more easily.
The Bastrop Texas wildfire was over 30 percent contained Friday.
Two persons died on Tuesday in the massive wildfire that has covered Bastrop Texas since Monday.
Bastrop Texas: The ruins of a house destroyed by wildfire (Reuters)
They were not public safety responders said officials without any further details. The death toll from Labor Day weekend wildfires across Texas raises to four with these two deaths in the Bastrop County Complex. On Monday a 20-year-old mother and her 18-month-old daughter, caught by flames in a mobile home, died in Gregg County (northeast Texas).
This is the most withering wildfire in Texas in over ten years. The Bastrop County Complex fire destroyed almost 600 homes and led to evacuation of 5,000 in Bastrop County alone.
More than ten other fires sweeped on Tuesday, burning six homes in Caldwell County (near Bastrop County), twelve homes in Grimes County (40 miles northwest of Houston). In Cass County a 7,000-acre fire burned in heavy timberland and in one neighborhood in Bastrop flames attacked houses built among oaks, pines and cedar trees.
The wildfire in Leander destroyed over ten homes and caused the evacuations of 500 residents and $1.4 million in damage. The fire is investigating as arson, Police were searching for three teens connected to that.
Officials of Federal Emergency Management Agency came to Bastrop Texas and began to assess the needs of the victims and damages.
Bastrop Texas: burnt vehicle
“It is certainly a remarkable fire in terms of evacuations and the number of homes that have burned,” said Ken Frederick, of National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
Texas Task Force 1, a wide-area search team sent to New York after the September 11, 2001, attacks and to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was deployed by Governor on Tuesday evening.
“Pretty powerful visuals of individuals who lost everything. The magnitude of these losses are pretty stunning.” Said Rick Perry, Texas Governor.
The available bulldozers and other heavy equipment were kept at the Army’s Fort Hood, around 75 miles from Bastrop, Perry complained. He also asked for federal assistance and in order to help Texas Obama administration approved seven federal grants, said Jay Carney, White House spokesman.
Over 1,000 firefighters (including crews from California and Oregon), five heavy tanker planes, and three aircrafts have struggled to contain the monstrous blaze.
On Tuesday, the winds (moved by Tropical Storm Lee) became weaker and that helped to wildfire containment. There are still flames across Bastrop Texas, and the fire is far from being extinguished.
Over sixty fires have ignited since Sunday afternoon and one of them has reached Bastrop Texas on Monday causing major damages.
Bastrop Texas major wildfire: Flames over a road near Bastrop State Park (Reuters)
The Bastrop County Complex Fire has destroyed more than 25,000 acres of forest (two-thirds of the 6,000-acre Bastrop State Park) and has burnt almost 500 houses.
Tropical Storm Lee generating powerful winds and drought conditions (Texas has endured its worst drought since the 1950s) has made the fire to travel fast, consuming pine and cedar trees.
The Bastrop County is around 30 miles east from Austin and has around 70,000 residents. The speed of fire was very uncommon and led to evacuation of at least 5,000 persons, 400 people were taken to emergency shelters. School and school-related activities were canceled for Tuesday and the Red Cross has opened several shelters to house evacuees.
Rick Perry interrupted a campaign trip Monday afternoon and went to Bastrop Texas.
Perry, the Texas Governor, who was out of the state on Sunday, viewed the fire from the air. “This is as mean looking as I’ve ever seen, particularly because it was so close to the city.” He said.
Rick Perry said he planned to immediately request federal disaster relief for Texas fire victims. Since December, wildfires in Texas have claimed 3.5 million acres, and have destroyed more than 1,000 homes, he said.
He said it was too early to say whether he would attend Wednesday’s GOP debate in California.
Ground and air forces were mobilized to fight the large wildfire of Bastrop Texas.
Over 250 firefighters has working on the Bastrop fire, that stretches for 16 miles. Minimum 40 Texas Forest Service aircraft were involved in the firefighting Monday along with a half-dozen Texas military aircraft. Heavy air tankers, brought in from as far away as South Dakota, have been dumping tons of water on fires all day long, The Texas Forest Service said. The crews contained the main fire north of the Colorado River, but the major Bastrop Texas wildfire was still not contained.
Campfires, burning of debris, Labor Day barbecues were prohibited in all but three of the 254 counties in Texas.