Jun 21, 2017

Extreme heat making wildfire battle tougher in Southwest US

Sonoita, AZ
USA
by
Astrid Galvin and Angie Wang
,
ABC News via Associated Press

An extreme heat wave in the Southwest U.S. made the fight against a series of wildfires more difficult Wednesday, including one that has destroyed at least four homes in an Arizona town known for its wineries, authorities said.

Temperatures in parts of Arizona, California and Nevada soared to nearly 120 degrees (48.9 Celsius) this week, creating problems for firefighters. In California, two firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries as they battled a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles.

In New Mexico, authorities say a brush fire destroyed sheds and vehicles on private property and sent two residents and a firefighter to the hospital for smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.

In Arizona, about 100 firefighters battled a 2-square-mile (5-sq. kilometer) blaze believed to have been ignited by lightning Tuesday in triple-digit temperatures in Sonoita, 45 miles southeast of Tucson. None of the wineries dotting the area was threatened.

"The heat is a major factor not only for us getting overheated but heat will rise up our embers, which will cause more fires to pick up," said Joseph De Wolf, chief of the Sonoita-Elgin Fire District.