Governors of California, Nevada Seek More Federal Aid to Fight Wildfires

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Governors of California, Nevada Seek More Federal Aid to Fight Wildfires” – below is their description.

The governors of California and Nevada toured a state line area on Wednesday blackened by one of several massive wildfires that have destroyed dozens of homes in the West.

Cooler weather and even some rain helped in the battle against some of the largest blazes but fire officials warned that hotter, drier weather will return later in the week and could pose a threat of renewed fire ferocity.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, both Democrats, surveyed some of the damage from the Tamarack Fire that has swept through an area south of Lake Tahoe along the border of both states.

Both governors called for more federal aid to help western states battling wildfires amid record heat waves and historic drought conditions across the region.

“I want to reach out to our federal government and say we need some more help,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said. “We need to hire more firefighters. We need to have a more federally orchestrated planned response to these fires.”

The 106-square-mile (275-square-kilometer) Tamarack Fire was more than halfway surrounded by containment lines. At least 23 buildings have burned since lightning sparked the fire on July 4.

Evacuation orders for about 2,000 residents on both sides of the state line were lifted early in the week.

Tuesday saw thunderstorms that brought some rain and cooler and more humid weather that made grass and brushy areas less prone to burning, fire officials said. The chance of thunderstorms with some rain, possibly heavy at times, was expected to continue through Friday.

It fell gently overnight over the whole fire and coupled with firefighter efforts moderated the ferocity of the blaze. It was a welcome relief from the fiercely dry, hot weather that had scorched much of the West only a week or two earlier, when flames feeding on bone-dry fuel raged through a dozen states.

A historic drought and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

California’s largest blaze, the Dixie Fire, was 23% contained but remained a threat to more than 10,000 homes in the region about 175 miles (282 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The fire had scorched nearly 340 square miles (880 square kilometers), an area bigger than New York City. Weather conditions trapped smoke over the blaze and the shade helped lower temperatures and keep humidity up but authorities said temperatures could warm up to well above normal in the second half of the week.

The Tuesday night incident status sheet showed 34 structures and 19 minor structures destroyed, and seven other structures damaged. It did not specify the types of structures.

Nearly 80 large, active wildfires that have blackened more than 2,300 square miles (6,000 square kilometers) continued to burn through 11 Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

On Tuesday, record-breaking heat hammered the northern Rockies and smoke from dozens of large wildfires as far away as California drove pollution to unhealthy levels.

Unhealthy air was recorded around most of Montana’s larger cities – Billings, Butte, Bozeman and Missoula – and in portions of northern Wyoming and eastern Idaho, according data from U.S. government air monitoring stations.

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