Western States Heatwave And Wildfires: Are Smoke, Damage Worst Over Labor Day Weekend Ever?

A second fire in Southern California, the #PalmerFire, burned thousands of acres along with Los Angeles’ destructive #LaTuna fire Sunday as wildfires raged throughout Southern and Northern California. The western states’ heatwave is contributing to fire danger as temperatures in the southern San Francisco Bay Area topped 115 degrees on September 2.

San Francisco recorded its all-time high of 106 degrees September 1, according to SFGate. The previous hottest temperature recorded in downtown San Francisco was 103 degrees, recorded in June 2000.

A high-pressure system hovering over California and no offshore breezes are responsible for the extreme heat in the Bay Area extending into Central and Southern California, according to the National Weather Service. Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings through Labor Day cover about two-thirds of the state, the NWS reports.

Gusty winds and low humidity caused the NWS to issue a red flag fire warning throughout the northwest, including large parts of Oregon, Washington State, northern and central Idaho, all of Montana, and large parts of Wyoming and North and South Dakota.

Although Los Angeles’ La Tuna fire is the largest in the city’s history, and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti and California governor Jerry Brown have declared an official state of emergency, the blaze is far from the largest or longest-lasting in the western U.S. A number of forest areas in Montana, Washington State, and Oregon are also on fire.

The National Park Service issued an evacuation order for Glacier National Park September 3 due to the Sprague Fire. The fire started after a lightning strike August 10 and has burned over 5,000 acres. The Sperry Chalet, a landmark building in the park, burned August 31.

Glacier National Park historic Sperry Chalet burned in Sprague Fire. [Image by Hutton IncidentTeam/AP Images]

Another Montana fire that has been burning since mid-July had consumed more than 40,000 acres according to KPAX. The comparatively small Railroad Fire, burning in Yosemite National Park, is threatening the Nelder Grove of giant sequoia trees, the Sacramento Bee reported. In Oregon, about 150 hikers were trapped overnight by the Eagle Point fire in the Columbia River Gorge. KGW reported they were all safe as of Sunday afternoon.

The Palmer Fire in Riverside County, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles’ La Tuna fire, has burned about 3,000 acres near Interstate 10.

Thousands of homes have been threatened by the wildfires in California alone throughout the summer, according to NBC News.

The La Tuna fire jumped the 210 Freeway in Los Angeles, and three homes were destroyed as of Saturday night, the Los Angeles Times reported.

House threatened by Los Angeles wildfire in Burbank. [Image by Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Images]

Are the western wildfires and heat worse than ever over Labor Day weekend? According to the U.S. Forest Service, 5.6 million acres had burned as of August 4, almost two million acres more than the average fire year. Nevada reported it was having the worst fire season in the past 15 years, and Montana, where fires are burning in Glacier National Park, said it had used up most of its budget for fighting fires.

The U.S. isn’t the only country suffering from heat and wildfires. British Columbia is going through its second-worst fire season ever, according to Climate Central.

[Featured Image by Matt Hartman/AP Images]

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