Wildfires burn across US West

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California: Firefighters are battling to contain a wildfire that erupted near Big Sur last week, as the flames continue to engulf the dry California landscape.

The fire is one of dozens of wildfires burning in hot, dry conditions across the US west, including in Arizona and New Mexico.

The mountainous city of Flagstaff was shrouded in smoke Monday, and ash was falling from the sky. The national forest surrounding it announced a full closure set to begin later this week — the first time that has happened since 2006.

Intense heat that has hampered firefighting efforts more broadly was expected to moderate in the coming days. But, the National Weather Service noted it could bring uncertainty for fire crews.

In California, firefighters still faced the difficult task of trying to contain a large forest fire in rugged coastal mountains south of Big Sur that forced the evacuation of a Buddhist monastery and nearby campground.

In New Mexico, lightning-sparked blazes have been scorching the southern part of the state where a large portion of the Gila Wilderness remains closed, and fire officials are closely watching the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

More land has burned across Arizona so far to date with new wildfire starts quickly shifting resources. While humans are to blame for an overwhelming majority of wildfires, lightning started a 31-square mile (80-square kilometer) blaze west of Sedona that was moving toward Flagstaff.

Fire officials were mapping out a plan to starve the Rafael Fire of fuel as it moves through rugged terrain, canyons and wilderness, said fire information officer Dolores Garcia.

 

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