LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Crews battled about a dozen major wildfires across California on Monday that have forced thousands of people to flee, damaged or destroyed more than 100 buildings, and charred thousands of acres of drought-stricken forest.
Three years of drought in the most populous U.S. state has forced farmers to let fields lie fallow and left communities reliant on well water, with bone-dry brush fueling wildfires in temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Crews battled nearly a dozen major wildfires across California on Monday that have forced hundreds of people to flee, destroyed dozens of homes and structures and charred thousands of acres of forest land left bone dry by the state’s record drought.The most destructive of the 11 blazes, the Courtney Fire, quickly blackened 320 acres east of Yosemite after it erupted on Sunday, burning several homes to the ground, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Some 1,000 residents in and around the foothill community of Oakhurst and near Bass Lake were evacuated ahead of the flames, which were 20 percent contained by Monday morning as California baked in a heat wave that drove temperatures into triple digits.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hundreds of firefighters spent a second day on Saturday battling a wildfire burning out of control in a national forest southeast of Los Angeles, as the region baked under triple-digit temperatures that prompted authorities to issue a “heat alert.”
The so-called Silverado Fire, which broke out in the Cleveland National Forest on Friday morning, had charred some 1,600 acres (647 hectares) by Saturday afternoon as it burned through brush and chaparral left bone dry by California’s record drought.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A mountain lion that was shot out of a tree by California wildlife officers has been confirmed by DNA testing to be the same cat that attacked a 6-year-old boy earlier this week, state officials said on Friday.
Samples of DNA taken from the 74-pound cougar during a necropsy and forensic examination matched saliva left on the boy’s shirt following the encounter on Sunday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a written statement.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles health officials on Friday issued a special “heat alert” for this weekend, urging residents to take special precautions with temperatures expected to soar into triple digits across the region.
With California already baking under a record drought that has brought acute water shortages, forecasts called for temperatures to reach more than 100 degrees in downtown Los Angeles and even higher in some surrounding communities.
By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – A mountain lion believed to have attacked and injured a 6-year-old boy near California’s Silicon Valley has been shot to death in a tree not far from the scene after a three-day hunt, state wildlife officials said.
Experts will conduct a necropsy on the 65-pound male cougar to verify it was responsible for the attack on Sunday that sent the boy to a local hospital with bite wounds and scratches to his upper body, head and neck, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement on Wednesday.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A wildfire that prompted the rescue of 185 hikers in Yosemite National Park has blackened four square miles of back country wilderness, officials said Monday, as crews hoped rainy weather would give them a chance to gain some control over the flames.
The so-called Meadow Fire, which flared out of control on Sunday afternoon, stranded 85 hikers on top of Half Dome, the park’s signature rock formation, requiring them to be flown out by helicopter, Yosemite spokeswoman Ashley Mayer said.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A venomous albino cobra that somehow got loose in a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood and attacked a dog, putting residents on edge, has been given a new home at the San Diego Zoo, a spokeswoman there said on Friday.
The all-white specimen of a species called a monocled cobra, which is illegal to possess in California without a special permit, was captured on Thursday near where it was last seen when it scuffled with the dog in the community of Thousand Oaks.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California blue whales, the largest animals on Earth once driven to near extinction by whaling, have made a remarkable comeback to near historic, 19th-century levels, according to a University of Washington study released on Friday.
The recovery makes California blue whales – which study authors say now number about 2,200, or 97 percent of historical levels – the only population of blue whales known to have recovered from whaling.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The mother and father of a mentally ill California prison inmate, who died after being pepper-sprayed in his cell, sued the state correctional system on Thursday, charging that guards failed to help him and tried to cover up the circumstances of his death.
The U.S. District Court lawsuit, filed in Sacramento by the parents of Joseph Duran, 35, comes just weeks after California announced new policies curbing the use of force against mentally ill prisoners in response to a judge’s ruling that the state had violated their constitutional rights.