Source AP ©

Thousands abandon their homes fleeing from wildfires in western US

One of dozens of fires across the western United States raced out of a canyon in South Dakota's Black Hills "with a vengeance," killing a homeowner and destroying 27 homes, authorities said.

Residents of about 50 homes had fled the wildfire near Hot Springs, which also injured two firefighters and closed a section of a state highway, state and federal officials said Sunday. An area of roughly 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) has burned since the fire was sparked Saturday by lightning.

One person was killed trying to retrieve possessions from a home. The person's identity was withheld until relatives could be notified, authorities said.

"This thing blew up because of extreme hot temperatures and the winds," said Joe Lowe, state wildland fire coordinator. "It came out of the canyon with a vengeance."

High wind near Wenatchee, Washington, overnight spread a brush fire that threatened homes. By Sunday morning, 250 to 270 homes had been evacuated, and at least three outbuildings were destroyed.

In fire-swept Nevada, about 1,500 evacuees from Winnemucca were allowed home hours after a wildfire destroyed an electrical substation and several outbuildings, shut down the interstate highway, delayed trains, and killed livestock. No injuries were reported.

In Utah, the largest wildfire in state history grew to 283,000 acres (114,500 hectares) on Sunday. The blaze has swept through about 442 square miles (1,144 square kilometers) of extremely dry sagebrush, cheat grass and pinion juniper in central Utah.

A fire in Arizona burned at the base of a mountain that is home to several expensive telescopes. A spokesman at Kitt Peak told KSAZ-TV that he was concerned but not alarmed. Tankers were dropping retardant between the fire and the observatory, the station reported.

Other fires blackened the landscape in California, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

Quick-moving flames burned through more than 53 square miles (137 square kilometers) in California's Inyo National Forest, skirting the popular John Muir Wilderness north of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the continental U.S. At least one home was destroyed.

A wildfire in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California injured 11 firefighters, including one who suffered a broken leg. The 6,500-acre (2,630-hectare) blaze was threatening 22 homes, said fire information officer Joel Vela.

A 45,000-acre (18,200-hectare) fire in Idaho was contained Saturday, officials said. Crews on Sunday raced to repair fire-damaged transmission lines that threatened rotating power failures.

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