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Massive wildfires in West spur new evacuations

FRESNO, Calif.- More than 80 wildfires are raging across the West, spurring evacuations in both California and Washington state.

On Wednesday, officials in Okanogan County, Wash. ordered an immediate evacuation for the town of Conconully and the surrounding area for an advancing fire.

The fire was reported to have been coming off Funk Mountain and the Sugarloaf area and moving south towards the town of Conconully.

"Persons need to be aware of their surroundings and evacuate immediately. Law enforcement and fire crew are in the area to assist leaving the area on Conconully highway. Do not wait for door to door notification, leave immediately," Okanogan County Emergency Management tweeted.

Also Wednesday, authorities in Central California said that a weeks-old wildfire found new power and surged across a highway, forcing the evacuation of 1,000 people from their homes.

Sparked by lighting July 31, the Fresno County blaze tore through timber, brush and tall grass in the Sierra National Forest, growing to nearly 37 square miles. Evacuations were ordered in the Hume Lake area after the fire jumped state Highway 180.

About 100 miles to the southwest, a fire threatened 339 homes in Santa Margarita as crews worked to douse wind-driven embers and hot spots.

Despite the threat, the blaze was mainly burning within areas bounded by fire retardant. The biggest threat to homes was from spot fires that leaped over lines that had been cut to corral it, fire spokesman Bennet Milloy said.

"A lot of the smoke is laying low to the ground. It's really smoky and ashy, watching embers kind of skirt across the burned areas of the ground," Milloy said.

Western wildfires push firefighters to their limits

At 3 square miles, the fire was only 10 percent contained.

About 800 people remain evacuated from the small town near U.S. 101 in San Luis Obispo County.

Marilyn Oedekerk and Gina Travelstead were evacuated from a trailer park in Santa Margarita Monday evening.

"It was raining ashes on us," Travelstead told the San Luis Obispo Tribune as she sat on a cot at a shelter with her toy poodle, Sally.

Travelstead said she was terrified when she was told to evacuate.

"You're shakin' in your boots even though you're not wearing boots," she said.

Progress was reported on many of the state's other active fires. More than 440 California National Guard soldiers joined the firefighters this week, and thousands more were being trained, according to Cal Fire's Mike Mohler.