UNITED STATES: Raging wildfires over the weekend in the west of the United States given to heatwaves has brought record temperatures to several areas.
One of several large blazes burning across the U.S. West comes just weeks after another massive heatwave in North America in which hundreds of deaths were recorded.
Communities have been told to evacuate as firefighters struggle to battle the U.S. West blazes in extreme conditions.
In Arizona, two firefighters died on Saturday when their aircraft crashed while responding to a wildfire. The two firefighters were the only people on board. The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping perform reconnaissance over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire when it went down at noon local time (19:00 GMT) on Saturday. Arizona’s Bureau of Land Management paid tribute to the two “brave wildland firefighters” – “Our hearts are heavy tonight with sincere condolences to families, loved ones and firefighters affected by this tragic aviation accident.”
Meanwhile, in California, officials asked all residents to reduce power consumption quickly after a major wildfire in southern Oregon knocked out interstate power lines, preventing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity from flowing south into the state.
On Saturday, the Bootleg Fire took three transmission lines off-line, straining electricity supplies as temperatures in the area soared, said the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid.
Near the border with California, in the north of Nevada people were evacuated from their homes as wildfires triggered by lightning strikes tore through parts of the Sierra Nevada forest region.
According to the Los Angeles Times, one fire at the border of Nevada that more than doubled in size between Friday and Saturday sent up a giant cloud of smoke and ash which, combined with dry heat generated its own lightning. It was reported to be the largest wildfire of the year in California.
Expect extreme weather events
According to preliminary data by the National Weather Service (NWS), several areas in Nevada and California have matched or passed temperature records, and the extreme heat is expected to continue.
A 54.4C (130F) temperature was registered in California’s Death Valley on Friday, matching the August 2020 record of the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth.
Millions of people are under an excessive heat warning, and those drastically are urged to drink plenty of water and stay in air-conditioned buildings where possible.
Experts say that owing to climate change, increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves is expected to increase.