Timber-destroying wildfires rampaged out of control today over nearly 700 square miles--an area twice as large as New York City--in California and other states, despoiling some of the West's most scenic U.S. forests with ugly smoke and ash.
The epidemic of destructive blazes, ignited by about 9,000 lightning strikes, crackled through the parched thick forests of Northern California and southern Oregon for a sixth day, with signs the crisis was growing even worse.
Flames from the thousands of spreading existing fires and new conflagrations more than doubled the total scorched acreage to past 680 square miles--about 436,000 acres in 1,992 separate fires. That was more acreage than had been consumed in the first four days combined.
"The acreage continues to rise, meaning we're not getting a handle on the fires at all," Jerry Ahlstrom of the statewide fire command in Sacramento said.