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Fires in the West threaten thousands of homes and strain resources

As wildfires raged across Northern California's forestlands, a month-old fire veered toward a small lumber community as resources were stretched and thousands of homes threatened with destruction.

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Fires in the West threaten thousands of homes and strain resources

Crews were clearing brush and using bulldozers for lines to prevent the Dixie Fire reaching Westwood east from Lake Almanor. This is not far from Greenville, where it destroyed large swathes of the town.

As the fire grew closer, evacuation orders were issued to evacuate the entire 1,700-person town.

The Monument Fire, one of three large lightning-sparked blazes that erupted last month to the northwest, grew after it destroyed a dozen houses and threatened approximately 2,500 homes in the sparsely populated area. Firefighters reported Friday that spot fires were ignited by flying embers up to a mile away from the main Shasta-Trinity National Forest blaze.

These were just a few of the more than 100 wildfires that were raging in Western states, where drought has left forests, brushlands and meadows tinder-like.

Friday's U.S. Forest Service statement stated that it is in crisis mode and has fully deployed firefighters and tapped its support system.

There are approximately 21,000 federal firefighters on the ground, more than twice the number sent to control forest fires a year ago. The agency faces "critical resources limitations", according to Anthony Scardina (deputy forester, agency's Pacific Southwest region).

The Dixie Fire was fought by more than 6,000 firefighters. It has decimated nearly 845 square mile (2,100 km) of land and was 31% contained.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Pacific Gas and Electric suggested that the fire could have been started by a tree falling on its power lines.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there was also a risk of new fires erupting due to unstable weather conditions. This included the possibility of lightning striking Nevada, Oregon, and Northern California.

Edwin Zuniga, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that Mother Nature "just kind of keeps throwing us hurdles our way." He was speaking on behalf of the Forest Service, who was trying to contain the Dixie Fire.

Residents and firefighters in southeastern Montana were trying to save hundreds of homes from flames that raged across the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

The fire was contained to more than half of its extent. Its southern edge was still blazing near Lame Deer tribal headquarters, where an evacuation order was in effect. A second fire was also threatening the area.

Officials in Montana said that the fires had already destroyed or threatened grasslands, which are important for many locals who depend on their cattle and horses for their livelihoods.

Angel Becker, spokesperson for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said that smoke from the fires was so thick that it forced the closure of Lame Deer's health clinic. The air filters couldn't keep up with the pollution.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smoke also contributed to air pollution in some parts of Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Several fires were also lit in Washington State by hot, dry weather and strong afternoon winds. Similar weather is expected to continue into the weekend according to fire officials.

Two new wildfires that were started by lightning on Thursday in southeastern Oregon spread quickly through evergreen, juniper, and sagebrush trees.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared an emergency to assist in one of the fires. This was to mobilize crews as well as other resources to the area consisting of ranches and rural subdivisions. It is located approximately 14 miles (23 km) from Lakeview.

Three-digit temperatures in Oregon and bone-dry conditions could lead to increased fire risk over the weekend.

According to scientists, climate change has made the U.S. West more dry and warmer over the past 30 years. It will also continue to make the weather extremer and more destructive.

There are also dozens of fires burning in Canada and Europe, including Greece where a large wildfire has destroyed forests and torched houses.

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