Sunday, June 3, 2018

Massive Wildfires Ravage New Mexico And Colorado, More Evacuations In Hawaii As Lava Severs Road

Massive wildfires ravage New Mexico and Colorado, burning more than 30,000 acres of land

While the largest wildfire in California was just declared contained, both Colorado and Mexico have been hit with massive blazes causing hundreds to evacuate. 
The 416 Fire - as the one in Colorado is referred to - has scorched 1,974 acres and has only been 10 percent contained, according to the La Plata County Government on Facebook
U.S. Highway 550 was closed as a result from mile marker 35.5 and 43.5. 
The 416 Fire was first reported around 10.02am just 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado, and to the west of the highway. 

The Forest Service said the intensity of the Colorado wildfire, known as the 416 Fire, had slightly diminished by Saturday morning and that firefighters were focused on protecting neighborhoods and infrastructure.
Two evacuation centers have been opened for residents to check in, which will be vital to returning to the area when the fire subsides. 
The blaze in New Mexico - called the Ute Park Fire in Colfax County - destroyed about a dozen empty buildings on the Boy Scouts' storied Philmont Ranch and threatened nearly 300 homes, officials say. 
Almost 30,000 acres were said to have been burned so far in the blaze. 

The flames were first reported Thursday and ballooned quickly in a part of New Mexico hardest hit by a severe drought gripping the American Southwest.
'The Village of Cimarron is STILL safe,' village councilor Laura Gonzales said on Facebook. 'Continue to pray for our community.' 

More than 60 per cent of the U.S. West is experiencing some level of drought, the latest federal drought maps show, forcing national forests and other public lands to close because of escalating fire danger. 
The area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet is at the center of a large patch of exceptional drought.
Dry, windy and warm weather was expected to make conditions worse as the New Mexico fire burned on state and private land, including part of the Boy Scouts' ranch, state forestry spokeswoman Wendy Mason said.

 Estimates put the blaze at more than 25 square miles (66 square kilometers). Its cause isn't known.
Officials say no scouts were at the ranch and all staff members were accounted for. Employees who live in the nearby community of Cimarron were allowed to leave to care for their families.
Authorities ordered residents in Cimarron and surrounding areas to evacuate Friday as the smoke drifted east. 
At the historic St. James Hotel in Cimarron, the phone went unanswered after the popular tourist destination had emptied out along with the rest of the town.
The U.S. Postal Service also evacuated post offices in Cimarron and the smaller community of Ute Park, telling residents they would have to travel about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away to get their mail.

The 416 Fire - as the one in Colorado is referred to - has scorched 1,974 acres and has only been 10 percent contained

 The blaze destroyed about a dozen empty buildings on the Boy Scouts' storied Philmont Ranch and threatened nearly 300 homes, officials say

 More than 60 per cent of the U.S. West is experiencing some level of drought, the latest federal drought maps show

Smoke being reported in Trinidad and surrounding areas is from Ute Park fire in northern New Mexico

National Guard troops, police and firefighters ushered the last group of evacuees from homes on the eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island early Saturday, hours before creeping lava from the Kilauea volcano severed road access to the area, officials said.
A stream of lava as wide as three football fields flowed over a highway near a key junction on the outskirts of Kapoho, a seaside community of private homes and vacation rentals rebuilt after a destructive eruption of Kilauea in 1960.
The lava flow left Kapoho and the adjacent development of Vacationland cut off from the rest of the island by road, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency.
Also, lava destroyed a freshwater lake, boiling away all of the water in it, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported late Saturday, local time.
“Lava entered Green Lake within Kapoho Crater, producing a large steam plume. ... A Hawaiian County Fire Department overflight reported that the lava filled the lake and apparently evaporated all the water,” the report said.
Authorities since Wednesday had been urging residents of the area to leave before lava spewing from a volcanic fissure at the eastern foot of Kilauea reached the area.
The final phase of the evacuation was carried out late Friday and early Saturday by fire and police department personnel, with help from the Hawaii National Guard and public works teams, county civil defense spokeswoman Janet Snyder told Reuters by email.
An estimated 500 people live in the greater Kapoho area, but Snyder said it was not immediately clear how many residents, if any, chose to stay behind.

Another 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Leilani Estates subdivision, an area further west, where dozens of homes have been devoured or cut off by rivers of red-hot molten rock streaming over the landscape since May 3.
For those whose homes have been unscathed, the prolonged strain of uncertainty has grown increasingly difficult.
Lava was not the only challenge posed by the eruption.
Toxic sulfur dioxide gas emissions have created an additional hazard. So too have airborne volcanic glass fibers, called “Pele’s hair,” wispy strands produced by lava fountains and carried aloft by the wind.
One resident, Nancy Avery, said the glass strands hurt like paper cuts, slicing into her fingers and feet, toes exposed because she wore only sandals. She tried to pick up a strand but, “It just kind of melted into my skin and cut me. It’s so sharp, it feels like the glass is still in there.”
The lava itself, extruded from about two dozen fissures that opened on the slope of Kilauea’s “eastern rift zone” earlier this month, has also knocked out telephone and power lines and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant.
Lava burned two buildings at the plant, a substation and a warehouse that stored a drilling rig on the property, officials said.

Aliso Fire breaks out today in Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, California: Evacuations in Southern California

Around 1,500 residents in Laguna Beach's Top of the World and Old Top of the World neighborhoods were forced to evacuate Saturday, CBS Los Angeles reports. A wind-driven brush fire burned hundreds of acres and was threatening structures, authorities said.
The Aliso Fire, which was downgraded from 250 acres to 120 acres, was first reported at 1:07 p.m. local time in Wood Canyon behind Soka University, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said.
According to Aliso Viejo city officials, mandatory evacuations began at 5:30 p.m. in Aliso Viejo, affecting nearly 2,000 homes in the area of Wood Canyon and Pacific Park drives. There was word late Saturday that the evacuation order would be lifted at 9 p.m. local time, according to a tweet from city officials.

THIS JUST IN: Mandatory evacuation orders for the #AlisoFire will be lifted beginning at 9pm. At this time, authorities believe the fire is no longer a threat to #AlisoViejo homes. Please drive safely & expect some delays as this will be a slow process.
— City of Aliso Viejo (@alisoviejocity) June 3, 2018

Fire officials tweeted that crews "will remain throughout the night and day tomorrow." They expected to "make good progress with little to no wind."
Multiple fire engines were in place and more than 400 firefighters from OCFA and Long Beach Fire Department responded.
Both ends of Wood Canyon Road had been closed and residents who left their homes were not allowed to return due to smoke and ash and a need to keep roads clear for first responders.

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