This initially was reported on March 3 by Reuters:
BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) – Six villagers died in central China’s Hunan province as they tried to battle a forest fire in an area ravaged by severe winter storms, state media said on Monday.
The fire broke out on Saturday, trapping more than 200 people in the village of Xitai, Xinhua news agency reported. “The main cause can be attributed to illegal fires set in the forests,” Xinhua quoted Hu Changqing, vice head of the Hunan Forestry Department, as saying.
Forest fires had killed 22 people in the mountainous southern province this year and more than 1,500 forest fires had raged in 89 counties since Feb. 6, Xinhua said.
China’s most bitter winter in decades had left Hunan’s forests vulnerable to fires, Xinhua said, as heavy snowfalls collapsed power lines and tree branches. “The broken tree branches and the heating and lighting facilities left by the snow disaster relief teams in the forest have become very dangerous now and should be cleared as soon as possible,” the agency quoted Xu Minghua, Hunan’s vice governor, as saying.
HILO, Hawai’i — A brush fire that started Saturday under suspicious circumstances in the Mana Road area of the Big Island has burned an estimated 2,600 acres, and federal, state and county fire crews are working to contain the blaze.
Big Island Deputy Fire Chief Glen Honda said four helicopters were dumping water on the fire in an inaccessible area on the slopes of Mauna Kea today, with fire officials are focusing efforts this afternoon on protecting a single cabin in the isolated area.
A total of 35 firefighters and four helicopters are battling the blaze, which was first reported as two separate brushfires at 2:10 p.m. Saturday in Hakalau near Mana Road.
The fires later merged with one another to form a single 20-acre blaze, and grew to burn about 600 acres by Sunday evening. Most or all of the pasture land involved is state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Honda said.
Crews used bulldozers to cut fire breaks and conducted backburning along Mana Road to contain the fire and keep it from moving makai, but the fire continued to grow. It is burning mauka of Mana Road this afternoon.
County fire crews were working with a crew from the Pohakuloa training Area and staff from the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife to try to contain the blaze, Honda said.
JULIAN – Two Julian teenagers, accused of starting the 850-acre Angel fire that destroyed one house and a large part of an Episcopal church retreat, will appear in court later this month for a preliminary hearing on felony charges of recklessly starting a fire.
If convicted, Francisco Javier Abarca, 19, and Mario J.W. DeLuca, 18, both of Julian, could also be held liable for the $3 million cost of fighting the September fire, officials say.
The blaze, caused by an illegal campfire, forced the evacuation of hundreds in the mountain town on Sept. 15. Seventeen buildings were destroyed at Camp Stevens, which was purchased in 1952 jointly by the Episcopal Dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego.
Abarca and DeLuca are charged with a form of arson that does not require prosecutors to prove they intended to burn forest or buildings. If convicted, the teens face a maximum of three years in prison.
The arrests of Abarca and DeLuca in January were not publicized by authorities.
It appears to be under control now, but for a while there was concern for some 2,000 year old cypress trees being threatened by a fire in the Patagonia region of Argentina, according to Reuters.
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Firefighters battled forest fires in Argentina’s Patagonia region on Thursday, but thousand-year-old trees in a national park were not threatened by the flames, a provincial official said.
The fire, which government officials blamed on arsonists, started in the Alerces National Park, raising fears about damage to the park’s famous Patagonian cypress trees. The trees can live for 2,000 years or more, making some of them among the oldest living things on Earth.
“The national park is totally under control. There’s no fire and the firefighters are doing the ground maintenance work to make sure it doesn’t catch fire again,” provincial government spokesman Daniel Taito said by telephone.
However, he said the flames had ravaged some 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of mostly native woodland beyond the borders of the national park, which lies in the Andean region of Chubut province near the Chilean border.
Local officials ordered the few residents of the sparsely populated area to evacuate their homes.
Environment Secretary Romina Picolotti, who visited the scene, said action was being taken “to find the culprits of this arson.”
Three firefighters were injured in a vehicle accident in Texas, according to an AP story.
ROBERT LEE, Texas — Firefighters across West and Central Texas continued to battle wildfires Tuesday that burned at least 200,000 acres, injured several people and forced the temporary evacuation of the 1,500 residents of Robert Lee, an official with the Texas Forest Service said.
Fire officials were waiting for daylight Tuesday to assess the scope of one massive wildfire stretching across Sterling, Reagan and Irion counties in Central Texas that could be as large as 500,000 acres, said David Abernathy, an incident commander with the forest service. Airplanes will fly over the fire during daylight Tuesday to obtain more accurate mapping data, he said.
At one point the blaze moved so quickly — fueled by 50 mph winds — that flames were consuming an area the size of “a football field every minute,” Abernathy said.
Three firefighters were injured in Archer County when two fire trucks collided head on after one swerved around a car that pulled out into the road, Abernathy said. One of the firefighters was airlifted to an area hospital, an Archer County dispatcher said. He survived but his condition was unknown.
Yesterday a federal jury convicted a homeless man, Steven Emory Butcher, of starting the Day Fire, which in 2006 burned over 160,000 acres in the Los Padres National Forest. The charges included willfully setting debris on fire in the forest and allowing a fire to escape from his control. The same jury also found him guilty of causing the 2002 Ellis Fire that burned about 70 acres in the same area.
The 49-year-old man faces up to 11 1/2 years in prison. The fire started in a remote area where Butcher camped for part of the year. It burned for four weeks through 254 square miles of chaparral and scattered pines in and around the Sespe Wilderness, a remote area with steep and rugged terrain. It destroyed 11 structures. The costs for suppression were over $73 million.