Wildfires spring up across West as dry heat continues

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But Cal Fire said Saturday morning that the Klamathon Fire had only destroyed 15 structures.

"Starting Monday we're going to see a gradual cool down, as we shave just a few degrees off each day until about midweek it gets to something like normal, in the mid-90s (Fahrenheit) inland and 80s at the coast", said Jim Hayes of the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. The fire started June 27 and is burning in Costilla and Huerfano counties.

Conditions are expected to ease Saturday, said Tim Chavez of Cal Fire. Elsewhere in Northern California, the County Fire has charred 88,375 acres (35,764 hectares) in sparsely populated wooded areas of Napa and Yolo Counties. The Spring Fire in Costilla and Huerfano counties was reported at 106,985 acres Saturday morning.

Ray Chaner quickly put to work hoses and sprinklers when another California blaze, the West Fire, threatened his home.

Wildland firefighters have enough to worry about, but Thursday a tornado briefly touched down just south of the Weston Pass Fire, then while receding back into the cloud it moved directly over the fire. "If you've been in an event like this, it's a challenge for many reasons", said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest official John Phipps.

Burns said that "90-95% or more are human caused".

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About 75 miles east of Los Angeles, a wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest prompted mandatory evacuations for the entire community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes and about 1,000 residents. Forward progress has been stopped on the 400-acre West Fire that destroyed several homes in San Diego County Friday. Ray Haupt, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said losses included homes and livestock. But no other details were released because next of kin have not been notified, said Suzi Brady, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The blaze consumed an estimated 20 structures, including homes and other types of buildings.

In Utah, meanwhile, authorities allowed the return of some residents who fled a wildfire near a popular fishing lake 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City.

Crews also had 50 percent containment of a southwestern Colorado fire that has blackened 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) north of Durango.

Authorities said one person was killed in the fire.

Video from news helicopters showed fire crews running along Interstate 8 and trying to quell the flames that were spreading along the side of the freeway. A stretch of busy U.S. Highway 285 between Fairplay and Antero Junction reopened Saturday.

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