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Weekly Wrap-Up: Wildfires, Flooding Rain Wreak Havoc in Western US; Deadly Earthquake, Tsunami Ravage Chile

Extreme wildfires and flash flooding had deadly consequences across parts of the western United States this week.

On Saturday, the Valley Fire erupted near Cobb, California, just north of San Francisco and by Sunday had rapidly grown to 30,000 acres. The destructive blaze has ignited more than 73,000 acres, destroyed more than 550 homes and injured four firefighters, according to Cal Fire.

The fire is already one of the top 10 destructive fires in the history of California. Another robust blaze currently scorching California, the Butte Fire, is burning over 70,000 acres east of Jackson, California.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Lake and Napa counties, while also ordering mandatory evacuations for communities that were threatened.

Meanwhile, heavy, winterlike rainfall came down across Southern California on Tuesday. Daily rainfall records were set in Los Angeles and San Diego. The 2.39 inches was also the most rain in a calendar day in more than four years for Los Angeles and the city's wettest September day since Sept. 25, 1939, when 3.96 inches fell.

Strong thunderstorms arrived along the Utah-Arizona border early in the week, causing flash flooding.

In Hildale, Utah, two vehicles were swept off the roads with as many as 16 people inside the vehicles. In Zion National Park, a group of seven people who were canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon died as a result of the flooding. Between the two locations, 19 people were killed.

AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rathburn said radar estimates showed rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches falling in the mountains northwest of Hildale. The rain fell in two waves between 4:15 and 5:15 p.m. local time, about 30 minutes before the vehicles were impacted.

A powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the central coast of Chile shortly before 8 p.m. local time Wednesday (7 p.m. EDT). At least 12 people were killed and more than one million were evacuated to higher ground due to tsunami warnings.

Tsunami waves with a height of 4.75 meters (15.6 feet) were measured near the port city of Coquimbo, Chile, during Wednesday evening. A state of emergency was later declared in the city, the BBC reported.

A tsunami watch was also in place for Hawaii but was later downgraded to an advisory, before the threat eventually passed early Thursday morning HST.

In Europe, seven climbers died in an avalanche in the French Alps on Tuesday. The avalanche occurred near the town of Pelvoux in southeast France at the Snow Dome on the Massif des Ecrins, about 4,100-m (13,451-feet) high.

Elsewhere in Europe, severe thunderstorms rumbled through Germany, France and Luxembourg. Power outages and downed trees were reported along with damage to homes in France.

Tropical activity was limited this week. Tropical Depression Nine formed in the Atlantic, while in the West Pacific, Tropical Storm Krovanh became a typhoon early Thursday morning local time. The storm is expected to avoid Japan.

Several AccuWeather meteorologists and staff writers contributed content to this article.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at Kevin.Byrne@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.