ALTURAS, Calif. — Firefighters made gains Thursday against four major blazes in California, but the fires were straining resources in the sparsely populated high-desert region nestled between the Nevada and Oregon borders.
The fires in Modoc National Forest have threatened power lines and forced the evacuation of a small housing development, officials said.
The fires were started by lightning on July 23 and scorched 125 square miles (350 square kilometers) before being 40 percent contained.
The fires quickly grew last week due to dry brush and timber, high temperatures and strong winds. At least 2,200 firefighters were battling the wildfires. Two firefighters were injured and expected to recover.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday for Modoc County because the fires either are or could be beyond the control of local resources, according to a proclamation. He noted that more lightning strikes were forecast.
The declaration allows for funding long-term assistance and recovery efforts in the area.
There are just 18 fire departments or stations for the county’s roughly 9,500 residents. Many of the stations are small.
Alturas is the only incorporated city and its fire department has one full-time fire marshal, one firetruck, 40 volunteers and no staff. A fire protection district in the community of Adin has two fire engines, three water tenders and seven active members.
Nearly a million acres of Modoc National Forest lie on a plateau between Medicine Lake Highlands in the west and the Warner Mountains in the east.