LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Firefighters were working in extreme temperatures across the West and struggling to contain wildfires, the largest burning in California and Oregon, as heat wave baked the region.
The largest wildfire of the year in California — the Beckwourth Complex — was raging along the Nevada state line and has burned more than 85,000 acres as state regulators asked consumers to voluntarily “conserve as much electricity as possible” to avoid any outages starting Monday afternoon.
The sweltering heat, which extended across much of the Pacific Northwest, pressured power grids and fueled major wildfires, including a blaze burning in Southern Oregon that threatened homes and knocked out electricity.
California initiated another Flex alert, calling on residents to conserve energy use. An Amador County man told NewsNation his generator would power their refrigerator, freezer, and internet connection.
The River Fire in Mariposa and Madera Counties prompted evacuations. “Ashes were falling everywhere and we finally, he was still whipping at the flames getting close to the house, 20 feet from the house, and I just said, we’ve gotta go,” one resident told NewsNation.
The Bootleg Fire exploded to 140,000 acres as it raced through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon. The fire disrupted service on three transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to neighboring California.
A wildfire in southeast Washington grew to almost 38,000 acres while in Idaho, Gov. Brad Little has mobilized the National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region.
The blazes come as the West is in the midst of a second extreme heat wave within just a few weeks and as the entire region is suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent history. Extreme heat warnings in California were finally expected to expire Monday night.
In Death Valley, temperatures reached a scorching 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service recorded the temperature on Saturday at 130 degrees, which if verified would be one of the highest ever recorded on Earth. A ranger measured the sidewalk temperature outside the visitors center at 178 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday afternoon.
“I just came up here to see how hot it gets,” said Richard Rader of Scottsdale, Arizona, who said he had ridden his bike 10 miles across Death Valley on Sunday.
A new fire broke out Sunday afternoon in the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park and by evening covered more than 6 square miles, triggering evacuations in areas of two counties. Containment was just 5% but the highway leading to the southern entrance of the park remained open early Monday.
A wildfire in southeast Washington had burned almost 384,000 acres as it blackened grass and timber while it moved into the Umatilla National Forest.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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