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Wildfires blaze through the West as temperatures hit record-high

Fueling wildfires
Fueling wildfires 01:50

LOS ANGELES -- Record-breaking heat is fueling a growing wave of wildfires in the West. More than three dozen large fires are raging across 11 states this weekend.

In less than a day, a fire near Santa Barbara exploded in size from 150 acres to more than 6,000. Massive plumes of smoke descended toward rural towns, forcing hundreds to evacuate, including Gretchen Lieff.

"It was kind of heading in our direction so we got the dogs, jumped in the car," Lieff said. 

Wildfires are burning in more than 11 states on July 8, 2017. CBS News

Further north, hundreds of firefighters are struggling to contain a fast-moving blaze near Sacramento. Residents like Sharon Alberson are preparing to flee.

"I've put my trailer on the rig, we're loaded up!  We're ready to go!" Alberson said. 

On top of the wildfire danger: Brutally hot temperatures with records toppling across the Southwest.

A fast-moving wildfire burning through Santa Barbara, Calif. Santa Barbara County Fire Department / CBS News

Phoenix hit a high of 118 degrees Friday, breaking a 112-year record. Palm Springs, California, reached 122 degrees, one of its hottest days ever. And in Death Valley, the mercury soared to 127.

"We are going to see an increase in calls during this peak heat," said Los Angeles Fire Captain Erik Scott. 

Scott said many people ignore the very real risks of spending too much time outdoors. And even for the most seasoned veterans,  "firefighters are not exempt to this heat themselves," Scott said.

Firefighters battles wildfires in July 2017. CBS News

"Firefighters take with them to a fire 100 extra pounds -- you have temperatures up to 112 degrees right now, it's very challenging," Scott said.

Forecasters say there is some relief in sight. Slightly cooler weather is expected Sunday before a real cooling trend begins Monday.
That could help the effort to get those wildfires under control.

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