As broiling heatwave hits the Western region of the United States and brings the temperature to a record high, many states are now struggling with wildfires.
By Sunday, July 11, residents were instructed to evacuate and a major highway was temporarily closed due to the intensified blazes that firefighters struggled to contain.
Arizona lost two firemen as their plane crashed while responding to the flames in Mohave County, which was ignited by lightning, according to BBC.
“Our hearts are heavy tonight with sincere condolences to families, loved ones, and firefighters affected by this tragic aviation accident,” Arizona’s Bureau of Land Management paid tribute to the two “brave wildland firefighters.”
Wildfires ignited by lighting that struck portions of the Sierra Nevada forest region have led residents in Northern Nevada to evacuate from their homes.
The temperature in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 10 amounted to an all-time record high, with 47.2C (117F).
On the same day, high winds brought a wildfire in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest to twice the size at 120 sq miles (311 sq km), damaging the interstate power lines and forced residents to minimize their power use as supply energy was depleted.
A wildfire erupted by lightning was also reported in Idaho on Friday, July 9, leading Governor Brad Little to announce an emergency and deploy the state’s National Guard to help with containing the flames.
Firefighters facing the region’s numerous wildfires claimed the air was so dry that much of the water sprayed by planes to put out the flames evaporated before reaching the ground.
The EU’s Earth observation program last week announced that North America was undergoing its warmest June on record, which was said to be the fourth warmest month ever reported globally.
The extreme weather has resulted in at least 78 deaths in Washington last week, reported on Thursday, July 8 by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
In Seattle, there were hundreds of patients who got ill from the heatwave, with two deaths reported by the end of June.
“It felt very much like what happened in the initial days of trying to deal with the original outbreak [of the coronavirus] at the Life Care Center in Kirkland,” said Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director of the emergency department at Harborview, per the Anchorage Daily News. “We got to the point where facilities were struggling with basic equipment, like ventilators.”