Erratic winds challenge firefighters battling two major California blazes

30 July 2023

MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, Calif. (AP) — A massive wildfire burning out of control in California’s Mojave National Preserve was spreading rapidly Sunday amid erratic winds, while firefighters reported progress against another major blaze to the south that prompted evacuations.

The York Fire that erupted Friday near the remote Caruthers Canyon area of the preserve was sending up a huge plume of smoke visible nearly 100 miles (160 kilometers) away across the state line in Nevada.

Flames 20 feet (6 meters) high in some spots have charred more than 110 square miles (284 square kilometers) of desert scrub, juniper and Joshua tree woodland, according to a Sunday incident update.

“The dry fuel acts as a ready ignition source, and when paired with those weather conditions it resulted in long-distance fire run and high flames, leading to extreme fire behavior,” the update said. No structures were threatened. There was no containment.

To the southwest, the Bonny Fire was holding steady at about 3.4 square miles (8.8 square kilometers) in rugged hills of Riverside County. More than 1,300 people were ordered to evacuate their homes Saturday near the remote community of Aguanga.

Windy conditions and the chance of thunderstorms into Monday will heighten the risk of renewed growth, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

One firefighter was injured in the blaze, which was 5% contained Sunday.

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