20 Aug 2015

Fast-moving wildfires scorch western US

6:33 pm on 20 August 2015

Firefighters are working to contain wildfires that have set large parts of the western US ablaze.

The wildfires, which began late last week, were still being fought on Monday.

Flames rise into the sky in drought-stricken California.

Flames rise into the sky in drought-stricken California. Photo: AFP

Blazes have ruined homes, shut down power, charred buildings and spurred many to evacuate.

In the state of Washington, the fires have charred over 40,000 hectares and caused 1500 people to flee their homes.

Crews have used air tankers, helicopters and bulldozers to attack the fires, which have been made worse by high temperatures, reaching record levels this season and making fires harder to maintain.

Fire authorities have called in soldiers to help and are also asking other countries, including New Zealand and Australia, for mid-level fire managers.

More than 50 structures have been destroyed in Washington, and that number is likely to increase.

Thirty homes and 75 other buildings were consumed in a blaze in Idaho, which is already struggling with major drought.

Firefighters are still battling the flames that began in the last few days.

A 70-year-old woman, Cheryl Lee Wissler, died in Idaho during the blazes. She was on her way out of her house when she fell, later dying of a head injury, local authorities said.

Sunbathers in Chelan, a beach town in Washington, saw helicopters dipping into Lake Chelan to get water for fighting blazes north of the lake.

Air tankers made lines to keep the flames from reaching downtown Chelan.

In Oregon, wildfires have destroyed six homes and caused hundreds of residents living along the Warm Springs Indian Reservation to flee.

In southern California, a wildfire ruined 650 hectares of forest near Los Angeles. No-one was hurt.

A wildfire 160 kilometres from San Francisco in northern California caused evacuations and sent haze from smoke down to the Bay Area.

Another blaze in the area destroyed 43 homes days earlier.

In Montana, the biggest fire burned 5400 hectares, with flames blaming in Glacier National Park and on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Lighting storms ignited several fires in Colorado, but no injuries and only one home evacuation were reported.