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U.S. states draw outside support as wildfires blast through West

Click to play video: 'Dozens of wildfires rage out of control in western U.S.' Dozens of wildfires rage out of control in western U.S.
WATCH: Out-of-control wildfires have scorched over 550,000 hectares of land in the western U.S., with climate change creating the perfect conditions for fires to erupt. As Jennifer Johnson reports, major infernos, like California's Dixie Fire and the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, are spreading to new areas and forcing more evacuations. – Jul 24, 2021

Out-of-state crews headed to Montana Saturday to battle a blaze that injured five firefighters as the West struggled with a series of fires that have ravaged rural lands and destroyed homes.

Progress was being made on the nation’s largest blaze, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, but additional mandatory evacuations were ordered Friday evening and less than half of it had been contained, fire officials said. The growth of the sprawling fire had slowed, but increased fire activity was expected Saturday, and thousands of homes remained threatened on its eastern side, authorities said.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proclaimed a state of emergency for four northern counties because of wildfires that he said were causing “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.” The proclamation opens the way for more state support.

Read more: Heat domes and wildfires: New approach needed in extreme weather fight, report author says

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On Saturday, fire crews from California and Utah were coming to Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced. Five firefighters were injured Thursday when swirling winds blew flames back on them as they worked on the Devil’s Creek fire burning in rough, steep terrain near the rural town of Jordan.

They remained hospitalized Friday. Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mark Jacobsen declined to release the extent of their injuries. The firefighters included three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew members from North Dakota and two U.S. Forest Service firefighters from New Mexico.

Click to play video: 'The psychological effects of wildfire evacuations' The psychological effects of wildfire evacuations
The psychological effects of wildfire evacuations – Jul 24, 2021

In California, the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe continued to burn through timber and chaparral and threatened communities on both sides of the California-Nevada state line. The fire, sparked by lightning July 4 in Alpine County, has destroyed at least 10 buildings.

In Butte County, California, the Dixie Fire continued to burn in rugged and remote terrain, hampering firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze as it grows eastward, becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year.

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Click to play video: 'Tamarack Fire in northern California grows to over 65,000 acres' Tamarack Fire in northern California grows to over 65,000 acres
Tamarack Fire in northern California grows to over 65,000 acres – Jul 24, 2021

Heavy smoke from both huge fires lowered visibility and may at times ground aircraft providing support for fire crews on the ground. The air quality south of Lake Tahoe and across the state line into Nevada deteriorated to very unhealthy levels.

In north-central Washington, firefighters battled two blazes in Okanogan County that threatened hundreds of homes and again caused hazardous air quality conditions Saturday. And in northern Idaho, east of Spokane, Washington, a small fire near the Silverwood Theme Park prompted evacuations Friday evening at the park and in the surrounding area. The theme park was back open on Saturday with the fire half contained.

Click to play video: 'How Canada’s smoky summer will impact physical, mental health' How Canada’s smoky summer will impact physical, mental health
How Canada’s smoky summer will impact physical, mental health – Jul 23, 2021

Although hot weather with afternoon winds posed a continued threat of spreading blazes, weekend forecasts also called for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and other states. However, forecasters said some could be dry thunderstorms that produce little rain but a lot of lightning, which can spark new blazes.

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More than 85 large wildfires were burning around the country, most of them in Western states, and they had burned over 553,000 hectares of land.

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