Wildfires force thousands to evacuate homes

OROVILLE, Calif. — California fire officials are warning residents in wildfire areas to get out immediately if authorities issue evacuation orders.

Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Monday that officials had to send in three engine crews to rescue a person who ignored weekend orders to leave as flames approached mountain homes. Milloy says officials will always try to save human lives, but the effort can sometimes drain resources needed elsewhere. He says three engines can protect up to 20 homes.

Milloy says crews fighting a 9-square-mile fire near Oroville in Northern California are contending with steep terrain, soaring daytime temperatures and the possibility of renewed winds.

When Chuck Wilsey was ordered to evacuate this weekend as a wildfire roared near his Oroville ranch home, he was ready.

Wilsey says he started keeping his truck and camper loaded with supplies in February after anxiously watching a creek on his property swell during winter rains that prompted thousands to flee when spillways in the nation’s tallest dam began crumbling.

Brutally hot temperatures have been recorded across the Southwest, CBS News’ Chris Martinez reported. Phoenix hit a high of 118 degrees Friday, breaking a 112-year record. Palm Springs, California, reached 122 degrees, one of its hottest days ever. And in Death Valley, the mercury soared to 127.

“We are going to see an increase in calls during this peak heat,” said Los Angeles Fire Captain Erik Scott. 

In Southern California, at least 3,500 people remain evacuated as two fires raged at separate ends of Santa Barbara County.

In Canada’s remote Yukon Territory, a wildfire ignited by lightning has crossed the U.S. border into Alaska, while another nearby fire in Alaska has crossed into Canada.

Fire managers said Monday a 140-square-mile fire is straddling the border near an old Alaska Native settlement of Old Rampart, about 20 miles west of the border. Alaska fire spokesman Sam Harrel says no structures are threatened by that fire.

Harrel says another Alaska wildfire triggered by lightning earlier this month several miles to the north crossed the border into Canada and is threatening an old historic settlement there.

Yukon Territory fire spokesman George Maratos says fire crews have shored up protections around the site, including protective burning and clearing brush and debris.

He says no injuries have been reported.

In Colorado, the fight against a wildfire that temporarily forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near the resort town of Breckenridge is winding down.

Firefighters had built containment lines around 85 percent of the blaze as of Monday, and residents of nearby homes were no longer on standby to evacuate. Crews and equipment were starting to be sent to other fires burning around the western U.S.

In Arizona, residents who fled the rural community of Dudleyville, about 100 miles southeast of Phoenix, over the weekend because of a wildfire were allowed to return home.

Pinal County authorities say the evacuations were lifted Sunday evening after crews stopped the growth of the fire, which has destroyed three homes.

In New Mexico, firefighters are mopping up a wildfire that sent up a tall plume of smoke from mountains overlooking Albuquerque late last week.

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