"Strange lightning storms" causing widespread bush fires in the US and Canada
This week's strange lightning storms caused 33 fires in the Sierra National Forest and 12 fires in the Sequoia National Forest California, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
The Sierra National Forest's 120 firefighters worked to extinguish small blazes sparked on Thursday and Friday morning.
One was in the Bass Lake Ranger District, while 32 were in the High Sierra district.
The largest of the fires in the Sequoia National Forest, the four-acre Grey fire, is burning near Grey Meadow in the Western Divide Ranger District.
Meanwhile in Utah interagency firefighting efforts continued Saturday on the 4,201-acre Mount Emma Fire about 75 miles southeast of St. George, Utah, on the Arizona Strip.
The fire, caused by lightning June 24, is burning within Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument's Mount Logan Wilderness and Grand Canyon National Park, the Bureau of Land Management reported Saturday.
The fire continues to benefit from moisture and the increased humidity provided by recent storm activity.
In Washington State a fast-moving fire on the south end of Portage Island forced holiday campers to evacuate.
No one was injured in the fire, which had burned an estimated five acres of forestland on the undeveloped island by 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 4.
"It's burned from the beach on the south part of the island up into the trees," said Bill Hewett, assistant chief for Fire District 8 in Marietta, which was the first fire crew on the scene.
After climbing quickly up a steep slope, the fire began to creep through timber on flatter terrain, Department of Natural Resources fire spokesman Chris Hankey said. DNR took over command of the fire from the Marietta fire district.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from Lummi and Eliza islands, Bellingham and Ferndale.
About 40 or 50 campers were on the island when the fire started, Hewett said.
Some of them had driven onto the island using the land bridge at low tide but found it difficult to leave the way they had come because the tide had risen.
Further north in Canada firefighters are returning to a northern Saskatchewan community to soak down homes after they were forced to flee flames that were fanned by strong winds.
Edward Henderson, chief of the Montreal Lake First Nation, says three houses and a trailer burned while his community was empty Friday night.
That's on top of the two homes that were on fire when he and everyone else who was fighting the fire had to leave on Friday evening.
About 20 volunteers had stayed behind to watch over the homes and take care of pets left behind when most of the community's 1,000 residents were evacuated a week ago.
More than 7,900 people in the Lac La Ronge and Hall Lake areas have been asked to evacuate as fire creeps closer to their communities.
A general evacuation has been advised for La Ronge, Air Ronge and Lac La Ronge Indian Band as the Egg fire moves to within eight kilometers north to the east side of Hives Lake.
Meanwhile fire is within 500 metres of Hall Lake, Sikichew and Clam Lake Bridge and is a direct threat to the communities, according to Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson.
"So socked in with smoke we can't see across our lake," said Jenni Willems, who is helping her father evacuate his home near Lamp Lake, 10 kilometres north of La Ronge.
"I wouldn't say scary.
You grow up in the north, you're surrounded by forest fires, you're kind of mentally prepared for that, but to actually see it happening is another thing all together."
Evacuees who do not have a place to stay are being sent to an evacuation facility Cold Lake, Alta. The Red Cross will coordinate the evacuation centre with additional support from the Canadian Armed Forces.
Facilities in Cold Lake can house up to 5,000 people but the province expects many residents to stay with family and friends according to Emergency Management and Fire Safety director Duane McKay.
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