Amid record heatwave, western states battle wildfires
As communities across the western region of the United States find themselves in the grip of a record heatwave, a series of wildfires have also swept through the area, triggering power outages and evacuations.
According to BBC News, residents in California were encouraged to conserve power during the evening hours in hopes of lessening the burden on the state's electrical grid.
Over the weekend, first responders struggled to contain the exploding northern California Beckwourth Complex Fire, which was a combination of two lightning-caused fires that were burning in Nevada County, near Tahoe National Forest.
In addition to this, on Saturday a wildfire in southern Oregon doubled in size to 120 square miles as it tore through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the Klamath county town of Sprague River.
As this occurred, residents in Arizona mourned the loss of two firefighters who were killed while responding to a blaze on Saturday.
The aircraft the firefighters were in crashed around noon local time (19:00 GMT) on Saturday near the small community of Wikieup.
Arizona's Bureau of Land Management paid tribute to the two "brave wildland firefighters" saying, "Our hearts are heavy tonight with sincere condolences to families, loved ones and firefighters affected by this tragic aviation accident."
It is with a heavy heart we confirm the tragic death of retired Northwest Fire Chief Jeff Piechura, who lost his life in a plane crash on Saturday, July 10th, while fighting the #CedarBasinFire.— Northwest Fire (@NorthwestFire) July 11, 2021
Jeff, or “Chief Pie” to many, proudly led the District for 24 years. pic.twitter.com/2ykq568PUS
In Nevada's northern regions, residents were evacuated as wildfires triggered by lightning strikes ripped through parts of the Sierra Nevada forest region.
All the while, record heatwaves continued to inundate the area.
Palm Springs, California hit a record high temperature of 120F (49C) Saturday while Fresno dealt with temperatures of 111 degrees F (44 C).
According to the National Weather Service, Las Vegas, late Saturday afternoon tied the all-time record high of 117 F (47 C).
This heatwave was not the first of the summer. Only weeks ago, the U.S. struggled through extreme temperatures during a heatwave that caused hundreds of deaths.
The BBC notes that experts say climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. But linking any single event to global warming is complicated.
Residents in regions impacted by the heatwave have been encouraged to drink plenty of water and stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
Officials have also set up cooling centers, which are air-conditioned public spaces, to offer residents a bit of relief from the excessive temperatures.