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May 5th, 2014
04:38 AM ET

Fast-Moving Wildfire Burns at Least 20 Homes in Oklahoma

A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least 20 homes and killed at least one person in Oklahoma's Logan County on Sunday.

It was one of several fires to break out amid unseasonably high temperatures and windy conditions in the state, officials said.

The victim was a 56-year-old man who failed to evacuate when requested, said Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.

Guthrie is the county seat.

The Guthrie blaze was about four miles long and up to a mile wide and was burning a largely rural area.

Harlow put the fire's size at between 3,000 to 4,000 acres.

"It's growing so fast it's pretty hard to estimate," Stephens said. "There are a lot of cedar trees, they have a lot of oil in them and they just explode."

The fire was the largest of several in the state that are being fueled by temperatures in the 90s and high winds, said Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

"They got three ingredients for a bad fire: high temperatures, high winds and low humidity," said Daryl Williams with the National Weather Service in Norman.

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Filed under: Wildfire
August 28th, 2013
06:15 AM ET

'Rim Fire' Becomes 7th Largest in California History

 A massive wildfire raging in Northern California continues to burn out of control, becoming the seventh largest in the state’s history.

The Rim Fire has now grown to some 281 square miles - and has destroyed more than a hundred buildings, including some homes. Thousands more are threatened.

“Walking into the burning timber on the edge of Yosemite National Park, the loud crackling of burning trees and the crash of trees falling is unmistakable,” reports CNN’s Casey Wian.

Johnny Miller of Cal Fire says, "One of the biggest concerns is that obviously you see these large trees out here, so we have a lot of those trees that are dropping or falling in isolated areas, so our firefighters really have to be heads up when they're out there putting water on the fire."

In several hot-spots, there's no water in sight. Firefighters are dealing with conditions that make it apparent the fire will continue to burn for longer yet.

“It's not just fire, the smoke is so thick in areas surrounding Yosemite that visibility is reduced to less than 100 yards,” Wian says.

“The good news, most of Yosemite National Park, famous for breathtaking scenery that attracted nearly four million visitors last year, remains untouched by the fire.”

“The park is a large park it's 800,000 acres so we're in about 24,000 acres of it burned, so there is a large area of the park that is still accessible," Miller says.

But much of the main portion of the fire, which has spread to 180,000 acres, is not accessible by either vehicle or on foot. Firefighters are relying on aircraft dropping water and retardant to slow its spread in those areas.

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Filed under: California • Wildfire
August 27th, 2013
06:12 AM ET

Fire Near Yosemite Still Out of Control

A massive wildfire continues to burn near Yosemite National Park, posing a threat to a landmark that attracts thousands of tourists each year.

Scorching up to more than 160 thousand acres now, huge plumes of smoke fill the sky as the Rim Fire rages out of control from crews attempting to reign it in.

“Firefighters made small progress on Monday, saying the fire is still less than a quarter contained, but the dangerous inferno is still rated to have extreme ‘growth’ potential as massive flames ignite rows of trees and dry brush,” reports CNN’s Nick Valencia.

“Nearly two dozen aircraft are being used to fight the fire, the steep terrain making it nearly impossible to access some of the forest by land.”

Turning camp grounds to ashes and even charring a car in its path, the Rim Fire also threatens a reservoir that supplies both water and power sources for San Francisco, as well as several groves of towering ancient sequoias.

Close to the frontlines, Groveland, California is starting to resemble a ghost town.

The owner of one bar says it is peak season leads into Labor Day, but with the highway closed into Yosemite, her business in Groveland is down a staggering 98%.

"Everyone who lives here and owns businesses here is terrified," Iron Door Saloon owner Corinna Loh says.

While the economic impact yet to be seen, businesses and residents are grateful for the 3,700 firefighters risking their lives to try and contain the blaze.

August 26th, 2013
06:12 AM ET

Yosemite wildfire Scorches 144,000 Acres

A massive wildfire in northern California, scorching an area about the size of Chicago, has burned nearly 144,000 acres by early Monday.

The Rim Fire just keeps growing and is only 7% contained right now.

Encroaching its western end, the spread is threatening not only homes but also San Francisco's power supply.

“Thousands of firefighters are battling this massive blaze raging out of control in California's Sierra Foothills,” reports CNN's Nick Valencia.

Veteran firefighters are calling the blaze burning in and around Yosemite National Park one of the worst they've seen.

Vickie Wright of the U.S. Forest Service, PIO says, “So our main objective’s right now structure protection, just making sure we keep everyone safe and that we protect that park at all costs."

“Because of the steep terrain, parts of the fire are only accessible by air,” Valencia says. So bucket drops from aircraft is a crucial way that firefighters, taking shifts on the frontlines, are battling the blaze.

The Rim Fire has threatened small communities, including Groveland, located just on the outskirts of the fire line.

Evacuated by the fire, Susan Loesch and Curtis Evans wait for news about their vacation home.

"It was a little nerve-wracking when they came and knocked on my door, And then when we came up here yesterday morning it was very thick coming through the valley.  And then it cleared so I thought maybe we were still okay, so we're hoping,” Loesch says.

Follow along at CNN.com for developments.

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Filed under: California • Wildfire
August 20th, 2013
09:57 AM ET

Crews Racing to Stop the Beaver Creek Fire

Fire crews in Idaho think they may just may have turned the corner on the massive, 160-square mile Beaver Creek fire near the resort area of Sun Valley.

It's only 9-percent contained and some two thousand homes remain evacuated, but some residents were allowed to return to their homes Monday.

And there's some hope an aerial assault may be slowing the blaze.

Meanwhile, the blaze continues to ravage one of the country's most scenic spots, where many celebrities choose to build multi-million dollar vacation homes.

“Many people think this is an affluent area and it is," says Red Cross official Nicole Irwin, "but there are many people affected by this that are from different economic backgrounds and that's who is staying with us.”

Irwin is referring to residents staying in Red Cross shelters to escape the flames dangerously close to their homes.

“The Beaver Creek fire is a true beast, spreading across an area larger than the city of Denver,” reports CNN’s Dan Simon.

“Surrounded by bone dry trees and brush, it's clear this fire could keep burning for a very long time. The key is to keep the flames away from homes. But the wind has a way of pushing the fire in different directions.”

“We have plenty of resources right now and it's just a matter of having the right people at the right time, which I believe we do at this point in time,” says Fire Incident Commander Beth Lund.

“It's just a lot of work to go ahead and get this thing contained."

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Filed under: Extreme Weather • Wildfire
July 3rd, 2013
05:51 AM ET

The 20th firefighter grieves for fallen colleagues in Arizona – Kyung Lah reports

CNN is reporting some progress on the fire lines in Arizona this morning.

The Yarnell Hill fire is now about eight percent contained. But there is still a long way to go.

As the fire rages, 19 members of Arizona's Granite Mountain Hot-Shots, who died battling the blaze, are being remembered for their bravery. We’re also learning more about the lone survivor and 20th member of that elite firefighting crew.

Kyung Lah brings us that story.

“Assigned to the lookout position, Brendan McDonough had no idea he would be watching the fire that killed his entire crew,” Lah reports “His position was above the team when the winds suddenly shifted.”

Minutes later, the rest of his brothers were lost to the fire. The conditions were so erratic that "firefighters say there was nothing McDonough could do to save his brothers."

Follow along on CNN.com as the story continues to develop.

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Filed under: Heroes • Wildfire
July 2nd, 2013
06:08 AM ET

Community mourns loss of 19 elite firefighters in Arizona – Stephanie Elam reports

CNN is following the latest in the deadly wildfire in Arizona that’s already burned nearly 9,000 acres and is still raging out of control.

The Yarnell Hill fire is the deadliest in the state's history. Today a community mourns the lives of 19 members of the elite "Hotshot" firefighting crew who died battling the blaze. Arizona's governor has ordered flags be flown at half-staff in their honor.

Stephanie Elam is live in Prescott, Arizona following developments.

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Filed under: Wildfire
June 14th, 2013
08:45 AM ET

Colorado wildfires turn deadly with hundreds more are in harm's way – CNN's Martin Savidge reports

The most destructive wildfire in Colorado’s history has now turned deadly.

Desperate firefighters say the Black Forest Wildfire in Colorado Springs cannot be contained – not as long as 30-40 mile an hour winds keep whipping the flames.

Hundreds of homes have already been lost and hundreds more are in harm's way.

– CNN's Martin Savidge reports

READ MORE: Colorado blaze leaves 2 dead as firefighters battle on

Filed under: Colorado Springs • Wildfire • Wildfires
June 14th, 2013
05:35 AM ET

Colorado wildfires turn deadly; two confirmed dead – Dan Simon reports

The Black Forest wildfire in Colorado Springs is spreading out of control this morning.

There are 750 firefighters on the front lines, struggling against whipping winds in a losing battle. Flames are literally flying across tree-tops, swallowing up homes in mere seconds, and turning the situation deadly.

Dan Simon is live in Colorado Springs this morning with the latest. “We now have the first two confirmed fatalities,” Simon says.

Two people were found in what was a garage, “They were in the process of fleeing the flames.”

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Filed under: Extreme Weather • Weather • Wildfire
June 13th, 2013
05:59 AM ET

Wildfires threatening lives and homes in Colorado – Dan Simon has the latest

Unpredictable wildfires are burning out of control in Colorado. Dan Simon is following the latest developments.

“On Wednesday the fires roared through thousands of acres in mere hours,” Simon says, “fueled by high temperatures, dry brush and gusty winds.”

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Filed under: Extreme Heat • Extreme Weather • Wildfire • Wildfires
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