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The Latest: Navajo Nation crew deployed fire shelters

POTRERO, Calif. — The Latest on a wildfires burning in the U.S. West (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

Firefighters who deployed their fire shelters this week while battling an Arizona blaze were part of the Navajo Interagency Hotshot Crew.

Six firefighters in the 20-member crew used their shelters Tuesday, a couple of days before the three-year anniversary of a fire that claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots.

In 2013, the Granite Mountain crew members deployed their fire shelters in a last-ditch effort to save themselves. The lightweight cocoons are made of reflective material and are intended as a firefighter’s last resort.

The six who deployed their shelters Tuesday were treated for smoke inhalation but were otherwise uninjured. They haven’t been identified.

Authorities are still investigating what led to the deployment of the shelters but said the hotshot crew was in an area where the fire wasn’t yet controlled.

The fire is burning on 71 square miles on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.


This item has been corrected to show that fire shelters were deployed a couple of days before three-year anniversary of the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots.


2:15 p.m.

Authorities say two dead bodies were found in a fire-stricken area near San Diego.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said the unidentified man and woman were found Wednesday near a boulder in Potrero, about 45 miles east of San Diego. The property had been under mandatory evacuation orders after a fire began on June 19 and has since spread to nearly 12 square miles.

Residents had reported a couple that lived on the property was missing.

Caldwell says authorities began searching Monday on the large property, which is filled with ravines. The county medical examiner will determine cause of death.


2:05 p.m.

At least 400 homes in Northern California have been evacuated due to a wildfire that charged through inaccessible terrain and climbed out of a steep canyon along the middle fork of the American River.

The fire that started Tuesday has grown to 650 acres, or about 1 square mile, threatening more than 2,400 homes, businesses and other structures.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant says the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center in Auburn, near Sacramento and 140 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Initially, residents of about 100 homes in a rural subdivision 50 miles northeast of Sacramento evacuated Tuesday as firefighters braved triple-digit temperatures to battle the blaze. The weather cooled Wednesday to the high 80s, and crews have contained about 5 percent of the fire.


10:10 a.m.

A southern Utah wildfire continues to grow, more than two weeks after it was started by lightning.

The blaze near Pine Valley has so far torched about 2.4 square miles of rugged terrain.

It had previously forced evacuations and while those have been lifted, people could be asked to leave again.

The Pine Valley Recreation Area in the Dixie National Forest remains closed.

The fire started June 13 with a lightning strike on Saddle Mountain.


9:10 a.m.

A county fire marshal is refusing to make public radio dispatches and computer logs related to a destructive wildfire that charred 28 square miles in central New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal asked to review the information amid unconfirmed reports that the fire was called in hours earlier than has been reported and that efforts to control the flames were slow.

The human-caused fire was sparked June 14 and within two days had raced across 25 square miles, forcing evacuations of communities along the eastern edge of the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque.

A dozen homes and numerous other structures were destroyed.

The newspaper reports ( that Bernalillo County Fire Marshal Chris Gober denied the request, saying he and the U.S. Forest Service didn’t want to release anything that might hinder the investigation into the cause of the fire.


7:40 a.m.

Firefighters are bolstering lines around a blaze that had forced evacuations and the intermittent closure of a major interstate in central Arizona.

Crews were mopping up Wednesday after the blaze came close to homes in the Cordes Lakes area.

Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Dolores Garcia says crews hit the fire hard from the ground and with water-dropping helicopters and air tankers to keep the flames contained on the east side of Interstate 17.

It’s considered halfway contained. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office lifted evacuation orders overnight, and most of the interstate was open.

In the Tonto National Forest, officials are monitoring a few small lightning-sparked fires. Crews also made progress on several blazes caused by lightning in the Coronado National Forest earlier this week.


7:30 a.m.

At least 100 homes in Northern California have been evacuated as a wildfire charged through inaccessible terrain and climbed out of a steep canyon along the middle fork of the American River.

People living in a rural subdivision 50 miles northeast of Sacramento fled Tuesday as firefighters braved triple-digit temperatures to battle the blaze.

Placer County sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin says homes near Todd Valley between the cities of Foresthill and Auburn were evacuated as the fire quickly grew to roughly 300 acres.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant tells Sacramento station KCRA-TV ( ) that the evacuations were called because the community only has one way in and one way out.

No injuries or damage had been reported by Wednesday morning.


6:45 a.m.

A growing network of online cameras installed on forested mountaintops is changing the way crews fight fires by allowing early detection that triggers quicker, cheaper and more tactical suppression.

The network of roughly 20 high-definition cameras being installed around the Lake Tahoe region can pan, tilt and zoom into fires. They can rotate 360 degrees. And the cameras even have night vision, to supplement human lookouts that only work during daylight hours.

Fire officials say the cameras will augment — and not replace — human fire spotters who climb high towers armed with only a radio and binoculars, scanning the forest for faraway smoke.

They hope to install the internet-ready cameras throughout California and other Western states.