The U.S. Forest Service said on Friday that it continues to operate in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maxing out its support system. The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number of firefighters sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago, said Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region.
The Dixie Fire is the largest among more than 100 big blazes burning in more than a dozen states in the West, a region seared by drought and hot, bone-dry weather that turned forests, brushlands, meadows and pastures into tinder. More than 6,000 firefighters alone were battling the Dixie Fire, which has ravaged nearly 867 square miles (2,246 square kilometers) — an area the size of Tokyo. It was 31% contained on Sunday.
In southeastern Montana, firefighters gained ground on a pair of blazes that chewed through vast rangelands and at one point threatened the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. The fires were caused by heat from coal seams, the deposits of coal found in the ground in the area, said Peggy Miller, a spokeswoman for the fires.
Smoke from wildfires has driven air pollution levels to unhealthy or very unhealthy levels in parts of Northern California, Oregon and Idaho.
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California fire threatens homes as blazes burn across West