OROVILLE, Wash. – A 66-year-old man was critically burned trying to protect a neighbor's home from a wildfire (search), and another man was charged with reckless burning in the fire, one of many in Washington state and across the West.
The fire season nationally is running well behind last year's destructive pace. The National Interagency Fire Center (search) reported Tuesday that 767,018 acres have burned so far this summer, compared with a 10-year average of 1.32 million acres as of July 1, and 2.82 million acres as of July 1 last year.
In Washington state, Charles Eder Jr. of Oroville was driving a bulldozer in an effort to protect a neighbor's home when smoke and fire overtook him Monday. He leaped from the vehicle and rolled to extinguish flames covering his arms, legs, hands and face, according to his daughter. It was unclear whether the home was burned.
A local man was cited for reckless burning in that fire, which spread over more than 900 acres, authorities said. Timoth Algaier is accused of setting fire to hay cleaned out of his dog kennels. Gusty winds blew the flames into nearby grass and out of control, a sheriff said.
The fire was one of several in north-central Washington, where cool, calm weather Tuesday was helping firefighters. The fire, about three miles east of Oroville near the Canadian border, was surrounded by firebreaks later Tuesday.
In central Oregon, a wildfire west of La Pine grew to 16,000 acres Tuesday despite cool, wet conditions, fire officials said. The fire was 40 percent contained Tuesday, with more than 640 firefighters at the scene.
Fire officials evacuated two campgrounds earlier this week, but no additional evacuations or road closures were planned Tuesday, officials said.
In Southern California, a handful of wildfires whipped across dry brush and grass, temporarily threatening homes in Kern County and blackening more than 120 acres in Riverside County.
One of the fires destroyed 1,200 acres near the tiny community of Lebec. It was 95 percent contained Tuesday morning, with full containment expected later in the day, fire officials said.
The blaze was sparked Sunday by a flaming truck along Interstate 5. It initially forced about 400 people from some 200 homes as it spread across the hills south of historic Fort Tejon State Park, before 800 firefighters gained control.
In Utah, officials said they were investigating two teenagers who were "horsing around with matches" shortly before a 22,000-acre fire in southwestern Utah began. The fires prompted a voluntary evacuation of the Shivwits Indian Reservation Sunday night, but it was withdrawn on Monday as the fire turned away from the reservation, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management said.