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Danziger: Hot Head

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Thousands Evacuated As California Wildfires Sweep On

By Emmett Berg

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Sunday in Northern California areas hit by a fast-expanding wildfire that injured four firefighters and forced thousands of people to evacuate small towns near wine country.

The firefighters were hospitalized with second-degree burns after they were dropped off by helicopter to build containment lines against the so-called Valley Fire, which broke out on Saturday in Lake County, north of San Francisco and then spread quickly in hot weather and drought conditions.

A school, blocks of homes and an apartment building, and businesses were destroyed in the small town of Middletown, according to local media. Fire officials were not able to confirm the number of structures burned.

The Valley Fire, with 1,000 personnel assigned to fight it, is the latest in a string of large and destructive wildfires that have ripped through drought-stricken brush and forest on the West Coast over the summer.

Firefighters were battling 13 active fires in California including the 40,000-acre Valley Fire, which was zero percent contained and the 65,215-acre Butte Fire, which was 20 percent contained on Sunday.

MANDATORY EVACUATION

An evacuee from Kelseyville – a town that is partly in the path of the Valley Fire – told Reuters that Middletown and a nearby community called Cobb were “gone” and that there were explosions at a gas station. Fire officials said they could not confirm that information.

Chad Greenwood, a 44-year-old travel agent, said he grabbed his two dogs and one suitcase with important documents after sheriff’s officers gave him and other residents just an hour to leave.

“Where I live the smoke smell was really bad. It was so dark it looked like it was 8:30 at night, at 7:00 o’clock in the morning,” Greenwood said by phone.

The UC Davis Medical Center, where the injured firefighters were airlifted, declined to comment on the condition of the firefighters.

Governor Brown previously declared an emergency in rural Amador and Calaveras counties, where the Butte Fire began on Wednesday and has destroyed 86 homes and also forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Some 3,500 more people were evacuated on Friday from the path of the flames from a larger blaze, dubbed the Rough Fire, which is burning in Kings Canyon National Park in central California.

(Additional reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas, and Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; Writing by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Greg Mahlich and William Hardy)

Photo: A firefighter lights a backfire while battling the Butte fire near San Andreas, California September 12, 2015. REUTERS/Noah Berger

California Gov. Brown Declares State Of Emergency As Wildfires Rage

By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for two Northern California counties overwhelmed by wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of homes.

The emergency declarations cover El Dorado and Siskiyou counties, which have been ravaged by the King and Boles fires, respectively.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday granted a request for aid that can cover up to 75 percent of the state’s costs to fight the King fire; federal aid already had been approved for the Boles fire, as well as the Courtney fire in Madera County.

Combined, the three fires have burned nearly 100,000 acres.

The most destructive in terms of damage to property has been the Boles fire, which erupted late Monday and quickly tore through the logging town of Weed, just west of Mt. Shasta. The fire damaged or destroyed more than 150 structures, including churches, a library, and the town’s sawmill. About 2,000 homes and other buildings remain threatened by the blaze, which was 65 percent contained Thursday.

The fast-moving King fire in El Dorado County, meanwhile, exploded in size overnight, from 27,930 acres to nearly 71,000 acres. More than 2,000 homes and 1,500 other buildings were threatened by the blaze, which was just 5 percent contained as of Thursday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than 3,300 firefighters have been assigned to the blaze.

In Madera County, the 320-acre Courtney fire has destroyed 30 homes, 19 outbuildings, and 13 vehicles. It was 70 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest fire continues to be the Happy Camp Complex fire in Klamath National Forest. The fire, which began Aug. 12 and has burned more than 125,000 acres, is 68 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

That blaze is made up of 15 fires, all of which were sparked by lightning.

Photo: Steve Rhodes via Flickr

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Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Prompts Thousands Of Evacuations

By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times

Out-of-control wildfire burning near Yosemite has triggered thousands of evacuation orders.

A wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park is threatening 500 homes, has triggered 13,000 evacuation orders, and prompted the Madera County sheriff to declare a local emergency.

The fast-moving Junction fire had burned 1,200 acres and was 0 percent contained overnight, prompting local school officials to close five campuses Tuesday.

Authorities have also closed California 41 leading in and out of Yosemite National Forest and have sent out an additional 2,500 phone calls warning residents they may have to leave if the fire spreads in their direction.

The fire is just one of several blazes raging across California’s parched forests that have state and federal officials on constant alert for the latest flare-up.

In Kern County, Calif., the Way fire had burned through buildings and 3,000 acres after igniting Monday afternoon in Wofford Heights north of California 155. Crews are trying to control the blaze as it crawls through steep terrain and bone-dry vegetation. Evacuation orders were issued Monday for residents among half a dozen Wofford Height neighborhoods.

And in the hills above Azusa, the Tecolote fire in the Angeles National Forest was 60 percent contained Monday after burning approximately 274 acres, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

The blaze was burning in steep, rugged terrain away from homes, said fire officials. California 39 at East Fork was open only to residents.

AFP Photo/Mike Mcmillan

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