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Boy Scouts Rescued By Air From Wildfire

A group of Boy Scouts and hikers had to be airlifted from Nephi Canyon as a wildfire swept through a campground and destroyed a nearby motel, authorities said Friday.

"They'd had to get up in some real rough, rocky area to get away from the fire, so it could have been bad. But with quick work by the helicopters, they were able to get out," said Bert Hart, a spokesman at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The fire started Thursday at a campground in Salt Creek Canyon, 85 miles south of Salt Lake City, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday. By Friday, 20 square miles, or more than 13,000 acres, had burned. Eighteen Scouts and hikers had to be rescued, and all campgrounds and cabins were evacuated along the Nebo Loop, a scenic road in Uinta National Forest.

The nation's firefighting preparedness is at its highest level because of bone-dry conditions in the West and the number of fires. The increase in alert level opens the door for help from outside the U.S.

"It gives us the ability to consider bringing in international firefighting resources if necessary if the resources get further stretched here, Roger Petersen with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center told CBS News correspondent Stephan Kaufman.

There are now 70 large fires burning in 12 states, with nearly 15,000 firefighters on the lines, reports CBS News Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kaufman. Officials are so concerned about resources being stretched thin that they're considering bringing in firefighters from Canada and Australia.

"We have about 80 percent of our available hand crews assigned. About 80 percent of our heavy- and medium-lift helicopters are also assigned," said Ken Frederick of the National Interagency Fire Center. "There should be enough rain in Arizona and New Mexico to end their chances of large fires for quite a while, and that will free up some crews and other resources that we can reassign onto fires and their trouble spots."

More moderate weather Thursday helped firefighters contain 13 large fires burning in the West, and others are expected to be contained in coming days, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

"The reason we have a lot of fires going is because we've had repeated waves of lightning, combining with hot temperatures and a lot of dry fuels out there, so our firefighters are really busy in the West right now doing a lot of hard work," Frederick told CBS News.

Almost half of the 72 large fires burning nationally are in Nevada and Idaho. Two tiny towns on the states' shared border were evacuated Thursday because the fires threatened to cut off access. Murphy Hot Springs, Idaho, has about 100 residents and Jarbidge, Nev., has about 40.

Near Reno, Nev., firefighters were getting a handle on a wildfire that had threatened hundreds of homes on the edge of town. It was about 15 percent contained, and some of the 600 firefighters were being sent to battle other blazes.

Firefighters made progress on a large wildfire in Los Padres National Forest near California's central coast, and an evacuation order for about 50 homes was lifted Friday.

In southwestern Utah, a group of fires that began in Zion National Park spilled into neighboring land. Evacuations were ordered and some structures were threatened, although numbers were not immediately available. The fires have burned 8,000 acres, or 12.5 square miles.