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Fires keep tourists away from California's Big Sur coast

By The Associated Press
Created: 07/30/2016 2:54 PM

Blazes have destroyed dozens of homes in several Western states and scared away tourists from California's dramatic Big Sur coast, which is near a wildfire burning in hard-to-reach forested ridges that fire crews will likely be battling for another month.

Here's a look at some of the fires:

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CALIFORNIA

Fire officials say a wildfire burning near California's dramatic Big Sur coast has destroyed 57 homes and is threatening 2,000 more.

The week-old blaze has also scared away tourists who are cancelling bookings after fire officials warned that crews will likely be battling a wildfire raging in steep, forested ridges just to the north for another month.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday that the blaze has grown to 52 square miles (134 square kilometers).

The blaze a few miles north of Big Sur has also killed a bulldozer operator working the fire line.

More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the wildfire that officials expect to linger until the end of August.

Officials say flames are concentrated in forested ridges above the summer fog line along the coast. Many patches of fire were in areas too steep to be reached.

Big Sur establishments were already reporting as much as a 50 percent drop in business, said Stan Russell, executive director of the chamber of commerce. That's even though the only signs of the blaze were fire trucks and an occasional whiff of smoke along the famously winding and scenic Highway 1.

Normally, this time of year "is when everybody really runs at 100 percent," Russell said Friday about tourism in the area. "This is when we make our money."

Highway 1 remained open, but signs along the narrow route warned travelers that all state parks in the area were closed because of the fire.

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NEVADA

Two hundred firefighters with air support turned back the immediate threat to homes north of Reno where a series of lightning-sparked wildfires prompted voluntary evacuations Friday. But more fire crews were on the way as evening thunderstorms moved into the area packing potential for more trouble.

The biggest blaze has burned about 2 square miles (5.18 sq. kilometers) in the Red Rock area east of U.S. Highway 395. But it is 50 percent contained and should be fully contained by Monday night, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District spokeswoman Erin Holland said.

No structures have been damaged or injuries reported.

About 40 homes were threatened earlier Friday in the dry, high desert of the Sierra Nevada where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees about 30 miles north of Reno. But voluntary evacuations were lifted later in the day, and no homes faced any imminent danger by Friday evening, interagency fire spokesman Mark Struble said.

"Fire behavior has greatly diminished," he said in an update shortly after 7 p.m. Friday.

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OREGON

A wildfire on the west side of Crater Lake National Park has forced forestry officials to shut down a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports (http://bit.ly/2aldJKY ) that the fire, which has burned nearly eight-tenths of a square mile since it was discovered Thursday, has closed the trail but not the entire park.

Performances by the Britt Orchestra and Ensemble scheduled for Friday and Saturday are still occurring despite the fire.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Swinney says investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

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WYOMING

A new fire in southwest Wyoming has destroyed eight rural homes and forced the evacuation of about 140 others.

State Forester Bill Crapser said the fire in Uinta County was detected Thursday and grew quickly, burning about 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) in a matter of hours.

Elsewhere in Wyoming, favorable weather allowed firefighters to take the offensive against a wildfire threatening hundreds of seasonal homes. The fire in Shoshone National Forest has burned about 19 square miles (49 sq. kilometers).

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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