2 Large Wildfires Prompt Closure of Plumas National Forest in California

Nearly 200-square-miles of the Plumas National Forest were closed off as two lightning-sparked wildfires continue to rage through California, fire information officer Pandora Valle said. The fires have been burning throughout the eastern edge of the million-acre forest near the Nevada border.

Campgrounds, cabins and homes around Frenchman Lake were also placed under evacuation orders Friday as the state contends with swaths of low humidity and hot weather, the Associated Press reported. Valle said the flames were searing through dry pine, fir and chaparral, while ridgetop and afternoon winds were "really pushing" the wildfires.

Hundreds of firefighters, as well as aircraft, have been fighting both blazes, titled the Beckwourth Complex, the Associated Press reported. The fire burned across 38 square miles by midmorning on Friday after just one day and night, which has caused containment to decrease to 11 percent.

Several other wildfires have also been burning throughout Northern California recently, destroying dozens of homes in their path.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Beckwourth Complex
The Beckwourth Complex fire burned across 38 square miles by midmorning on Friday. Plumes of smoke and fire rise over a roadway as the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Plumas National Forest, California on Thursday. Noah Berger/AP Photo

In the region between the Oregon border and the northern end of the Central Valley, the big Lava and Tennant fires were significantly contained, and progress was reported at the Salt Fire as containment improved to 45 percent. The Salt Fire has burned 27 homes and 14 outbuildings north of Redding, which hit 100 degrees (37.7 Celsius) before 11 a.m. The Lava Fire destroyed 20 structures, including 13 homes, and damaged two structures. The Tennant Fire destroyed five buildings, including two homes.

In north-central Arizona, increased humidity slowed a big wildfire that posed a threat to the rural community of Crown King. The 24.5-square-mile (63.5-square-kilometer) lightning-caused fire in Yavapai County was 29 percent contained. Recent rains allowed five national forests and state land managers to lift public-access closures.

Climate change is considered a "key driver" of a trend that is creating "longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire," the agency said recently.

In Oregon, the size of a wildfire burning near Klamath Falls in the southern part of the state more than doubled overnight, the Statesman Journal reported. Officials said the fire now covers 60 square miles (155 sq. km.) as of Friday morning.

Meanwhile, forecasters warned that much of California will see dangerously hot weekend weather, with highs in triple digits in the Central Valley, mountains, deserts and other inland areas because of strengthening high pressure over the state. Heat warnings did not include major coastal populations.

Death Valley could reach a staggering 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius), the National Weather Service said.

California's power grid operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to avoid disruptions and rolling blackouts. Flex Alerts call for consumers to voluntarily conserve electricity by reducing the use of appliances and keeping the thermostat higher during evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available.

California Firefighters
Nearly 200-square-miles of the Plumas National Forest were closed due to wildfires. Firefighters work to stop the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, from spreading near Frenchman Lake in Plumas National Forest, California, on Thursday. Noah Berger/AP Photo