Weekend thunderstorms in the northern Sierra did not bring much rain but instead created winds and lightning strikes that bedeviled more than 6,000 firefighters who were trying to control the Dixie Fire, which was now one month old. Temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
"We are still facing the possibility of lightning. The winds are blowing all around. "Things are going to be quite unstable over the next couple of days," stated Edwin Zuniga, a fire spokesperson.
On Saturday, winds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) pushed the flames closer towards Janesville. Janesville is a town of approximately 1,500 residents just east of Greenville. Greenville was a small community that had been ravaged by the fire 10 days earlier.
James Reichle left Greenville, and has been living with his dog in a trailer near a church. Although his home was saved from the fire, he has been unable to return due to the closure of roads. He expressed his sympathy for the people who lost everything at the evacuation center.
These are people who don't own a home or have no access to one. There is no damage to the house. He said that he couldn't get in to the house Saturday.
The Dixie Fire was the most powerful among the more than 100 large blazes that burned in over a dozen West states. This region was plagued by drought and hot, dry weather, which turned forests, meadows, and pastures into tinder.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, it is currently in crisis mode and has deployed all firefighters and tapped its support systems.
According to Anthony Scardina (a deputy forester in the agency's Pacific Southwest Region), the 21,000 federal firefighters on the ground are more than twice the number sent to control forest fires last year.
On Sunday, firefighters in Taylorsville, California were watching a bear cub that had been possibly lost in the fire. A wildlife rescue team was currently removing the emaciated cub from the area that had been burned.
Johnnie Macy, a firefighter from Golden, Colorado, said that a bear with a mother bear or sow will usually stay together and then run away. "This bear has not done that so we believe that the fire has left the bear orphaned."
Nearly 15,000 structures are still at risk from the Dixie Fire, which has yet to be found its cause. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged and more than 1000 businesses were also destroyed. Pacific Gas and Electric suggested that the fire may have started when a tree fell on its main power line.
A few hundred miles south, evacuations were ordered after a fire that broke out last night raged through California forestland close to Omo Ranch. The Caldor Fire, which was burning in El Dorado County about 60 miles (73 km) east of Sacramento, was not contained.
According to Utah Fire Info, the small wildfire that erupted Saturday east of Salt Lake City and temporarily closed Interstate 80, leading to evacuation orders for around 8,000 homes, was caused in part by a vehicle with an improperly functioning catalytic converter. Officials said that the Parleys Canyon Fire calmed down significantly and no homes were now in danger.
Firefighters in southeastern Montana gained ground after battling two blazes that ravaged vast rangelands, and threatened the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. According to Peggy Miller, a spokesperson for the fires, those fires were caused heat from coal seams.
The mandatory evacuations of the tribal headquarters city of Lame Deer were lifted on Sunday. However, they remained in effect for people with medical conditions and heavy smoke, which made the air quality unsafe across most of Montana, according the state Department of Environmental Quality.
In parts of Northern California and Oregon, smoke also contributed to air pollution that was unhealthy or very unhealthy.
According to scientists, climate change has made the U.S. West more dry and warmer over the past 30 years. It will also continue to make the weather extremer and more destructive.