Firefighter killed battling California blaze

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A firefighter has been killed battling the largest recorded blaze in California history – the sixth fatality in a matter of weeks.

State fire officials did not immediately provide details of the death, which occurred north of San Francisco where the fire has been burning since July 27.

Two other wildfires in Northern California have claimed five other firefighters and six other lives.

In Montana, Glacier’s Sprague Creek campground was closed and evacuated, a day after a fast-moving fire triggered the evacuation of dozens of guests from the historic Lake McDonald Lodge late on Sunday night.

The fire grew to between two and four square miles by Monday afternoon.

Glacier Park Wildfires
An air tanker drops water over a wildfire burning in Glacier National Park (Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News via AP)

A second campground, a motel and private residences inside the park’s boundary also were evacuated. A 30-mile stretch of the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed to traffic.

Triple-digit temperatures across parts of the state — paired with lightning from passing thunderstorms — set the stage for several new large fires to take hold in Montana in recent days.

Among them was one that triggered an evacuation order for residents of 15 houses south-west of the town of Ennis. The fire was burning in challenging mountain terrain with a mix of pine, fir and spruce trees, said fire information spokesman Dave Sabo.

In Colorado, a wildfire in the south-western portion of the state ignited by lightning on July 29 had burned across 34 square miles by Monday.

California Wildfires
Ed Bledsoe tries to hold back tears as he searches through what remains of his home in Redding, California (AP Photo/John Locher)

The closure caused upheaval for thousands of tourists whose summer trips were cancelled. Visitors were warned to expect limited hours and services as the park returns to normal.

The fire burning in Glacier was one of several started in the park by lightning on Saturday evening. Windy, dry conditions on Sunday caused the blaze to spread rapidly, in full view of tourists and people who live and work around Lake McDonald.

Two planes from Canada were brought in to help battle the blaze, but officials said high winds prevented their pilots from flying close enough to the fire to be effective.

It is the second year in a row that wildfires have prompted evacuations around Lake McDonald.

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