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The South Battles Hurricanes While the West Burns

09-10-2017

Most of the national attention has been on Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as they spread destruction across Texas and Florida.  But, people in the Western and Northwestern parts of the US have been dealing with a weather crisis as well; wildfires. 

The fires have raged for weeks and span several states including Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Washington, California, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, currently there are 16 wildfires in Oregon, 21 in Montana and 11 in California.

In Montana, thousands have been evacuated and the state has spent nearly 50 million dollars fighting the flames. So far more than 1 million acres have burned in that state alone.

Air quality in parts of Idaho is so bad residents are forced to stay inside and outdoor activities like high school football games have been cancelled.

Displaced residents in California have taken shelter at a Red Cross center inside the First Baptist Church of Weaverville. Those evacuees were fleeing the Helena Fire that broke out in nearby Junction City.

According to the Trinity Journal, the Helena fire has destroyed 72 homes and 61 outbuildings. 

Police believe teens with fireworks sparked the huge flames in Oregon. According to the Associated Press, that fire left 150 hikers stranded.

They were rescued the following day. 

Lightening combined with dry conditions has also fueled the flame for many of the fires.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Congress last week requesting more funding.

“It is likely the USFS (United States Forest Service) will exhaust all funding for wildfire suppression within days,” they wrote.

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