In this image taken from webcam footage provided by the Village of Ruidoso, smoke rises behind Ruidoso, N.M., on June 17. Thousands of southern New Mexico residents fled the mountainous village as a wind-whipped wildfire tore through homes and other buildings. Photo: Village of Ruidoso Tourism Department via AP

LOS ANGELES—From extreme heat to unseasonable cold in the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. is facing a myriad of extremes. The Rocky Mountains may get a late bout of snow, while further South, firefighters in Los Angeles are dealing with their first major fire of the season and Phoenix was set to experience more days above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Big new wildfires challenged California firefighters June 18 even as they increased containment of earlier blazes that erupted as dry North winds arrived.

Evacuations were ordered after the Aero Fire erupted June 17 and spread over more than eight square miles near Copperopolis, a small community in Calaveras County, about 100 miles East of San Francisco, in the state’s historic Gold Country region.

Authorities set up three evacuation centers, but the number of evacuees was unknown.


Three structures were destroyed and one was damaged, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. A decrease in winds and a rise in relative humidity helped firefighters gain 23 percent containment.

The Aero Fire is among the latest blazes to erupt in California in a matter of days as a quiet start to fire season suddenly became active, with flames consuming drying grasses and brush encouraged by back-to-back wet winters. Most of the fires have been kept small, but a handful have charred thousands of acres.

In the northern Central Valley, a blaze dubbed the Sites Fire erupted the afternoon of June 17 and spread over nearly 16 square miles of rural Colusa County, about 105 miles North of San Francisco. It was five percent contained as of the evening of June 18.

In the mountains of northern Los Angeles County, the size of the four-day-old Post Fire was unchanged at just over 24 square miles, and containment increased to 31 percent.

Firefighters were building and reinforcing fire control lines and protecting infrastructure such as power facilities, oil lines and recreational areas. They have made significant progress on the northern side of the blaze, said Landon Haack, a section chief with Cal Fire.

Firefighters were focused on the fire’s southern edge near Pyramid Lake, a popular boating destination that has been closed as a precaution since June 16.

At presstime, the National Weather Service expected some areas to reach temperatures so high they’ll hit new daily records.

It’s hot and getting hotter for workers and everyone else outdoors as the first significant heat wave of the year made its way eastward across the United States. More than 70 million people were under extreme heat alerts.

And it’s not just the U.S. Across the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe and Asia, extreme temperatures are causing deadly heatstroke and early wildfires ahead of the start of the astronomical summer on June 20. (Compiled from Associated Press reports.)