Western Wildfires Update: Lodge Fire Burns Firefighters in California

By Eric Zerkel
Published: August 11, 2014

CalFire officials said that eight firefighters sustained "minor" burns while battling the Lodge Fire in northern California's Mendocino County Friday night.

The firefighters were airlifted to the burn center at the University of California, Davis, where they were released "just hours" after treatment, the Associated Press reports. A CalFire spokesperson told KXTV that the firefighters — three from Santa Clara County, the five others inmates from Salt Creek Camp, a minimum security prison — sustained "serious, but not life threatening" injuries in the incident.

CalFire remained mum on the cause of the injuries as the incident is still under investigation, but stressed that that incident is a microcosm of a larger, dangerous fire problem across the state.

"It's proving that this year it's a very dangerous fire season. The drought conditions are very tough," Cal Fire spokesperson Lynne Tolmachoff told KXTV. "It's scary enough for our firefighters. We urge the public if a wildfire is coming your way, you need to get out."

And that's exactly the plea that CalFire issued to residents Saturday, as the Lodge Fire burned wildly on its eastern flank. The department issued an evacuation order, indicating an "imminent threat to life and property," for the communities of Camp Seabow, Elder Place, Tan Oak Park, Bald Mountain Ranch, Mad Creek and Elk Creek to the east of Brush Mountain. The blaze was said to be threatening at least 60 structures in the area.

The fire, which ballooned to 7,500 acres and was just 30 percent contained Sunday, is just one of dozens of wildfires across California and the Pacific Northwest, fueled by dry conditions from a lingering drought.

An evacuation order was lifted for 740 homes threatened by the Columbia Gorge wildfire in Oregon. Firefighters there made good progress on the blaze, upping containment figures to 55 percent.

And in Washington, a dozen wildfires in the central and eastern portions of the state put more than a thousand homes and structures in some danger, though firefighters started to get control of about half the blazes.

Unfortunately, more bad news could be on the way for the thousands of firefighters in California, Washington and Oregon, with fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, according to meteorologist Linda Lam.

"An area of low pressure will be cut off from the main upper-level flow and remain in the region, bringing an increased risk of thunderstorms through Tuesday," said Lam.

"Those storms could bring lightning strikes that could lead to more fires, especially on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday there will be more moisture in the region which will lead to some rainfall, but the fire risk will remain as many areas may see little rain."

Meaning more fires, and more incidents like this, could be on the way.

Information and content from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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