Video: No rest for western wildfire crews

  1. Closed captioning of: No rest for western wildfire crews

    >> to be good news out west where firefighters are beginning to make some progress against scores of wildfires burning in nine states. taupe holiday fireworks displays have been canceled throughout the region. it is just too dry and too dangerous. more now from nbc's kristen dahlgren.

    >> reporter: there is no such thing as a holiday on the fire lines. from montana --

    >> with this fire, with these fuels, we can't get in front of the fire. it's just too dangerous.

    >> reporter: to utah where almost 3,000 acres have been charred outside salt lake city .

    >> i went out and looked out of my front door. it looked like it was right in the subdivision here.

    >> reporter: to california where the flames shot up in the tinder dry ranch land of los angeles . crews across the west cannot stop their frantic efforts to contain fire after fire. the massive waldo canyon fire near colorado springs , so big that it could be seen from space is now almost completely contained. the start of monsoon season brought slight relief to parts of colorado. but many of these teams will soon be moved elsewhere. according to the u.s. forest service , 54 major wildfires are now burning in the united states . and today a colorful reminder that it's not just nature they are fighting. according to officials, fireworks are one of the most frequent causes of wildfires prompting communities in up to 20 states to ban their use and cancel tonight's displays. police in hard hit colorado have teams on special fireworks patrol.

    >> are there any fireworks in your apartment?

    >> meantime in utah, it is another man made cause being blamed for at least 21 blazes. gunfire. the governor has authorized bans on shooting outside cities and towns where fire risk is deemed extreme. the move has sparked a political firestorm.

    >> i don't think it's all necessary. most shooters have a level head and they make good decisions. it only takes a few knuckle heads to give everyone else a bad name.

    >> reporter: but man made or mother nature , firefighters say their work this season is likely just getting started. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles .

IMage: Wyoming wildfire
Andy Carpenean  /  AP
A sudden wind shift draws smoke back over the top of Sheep Mountain as the Squirrel Creek fire spreads Tuesday near Woods Landing, Wyo.
updated 7/4/2012 7:25:46 PM ET 2012-07-04T23:25:46

Rains cooled Colorado wildfires Wednesday, but more than a dozen wildfires elsewhere in the West continued chewing through bone-dry pine and brush as firefighters working through the holiday kept a nervous eye for fireworks and other hazards.

Wildfires in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado sent haze and smoke across Colorado's Front Range, prompting air-quality health advisories as firefighters warned of growing fires in sparsely populated areas.

From wildfire disaster to Fourth of July extravaganza

In Colorado Springs, there was good news in the fight against the most destructive fire in state history.

Light rains that fell overnight helped calm the Waldo Canyon Fire, which has scorched 28 square miles, killed two and destroyed almost 350 homes. Firefighters predicted full containment of the fire by Sunday, with more rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity predicted through the weekend.

The forecast wasn't as kind in eastern Montana, where a mammoth 380-square-mile in Custer National Forest was gobbling up pine, juniper and sage with help from gusty winds. The fire has burned 16 homes.

Lightning, trains and guns blamed for wildfires

Firefighters gave the blaze "extreme" growth potential, with wind gusts up to 45 mph predicted. Temperatures were expected to reach the 100s.

As firefighting efforts continued, holiday fireworks were canceled across the region. Colorado officials were calling off holiday displays from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, while law enforcement was warning of hefty fines for people caught violating personal fireworks bans across the region.

Residents in some parched areas were joining police. In one Colorado Springs neighborhood, a homemade sign read, "FAIR WARNING: Anyone using or allowing use of fireworks in this neighborhood will be dealt with harshly! And that doesn't mean just by the police!"

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which coordinates wildfire-fighting efforts nationwide, said 45 large fires were burning Wednesday, including 36 fires in nine Western states. In Colorado alone, three fires have destroyed more than 600 homes and killed six residents.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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