Wildfires in 9 States, And Hot All Over

By: Candice Sorensen Email
By: Candice Sorensen Email

(CBS/AP) Crews are battling wildfires in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, reports CBS News correspondent Stephan Kaufman (audio). More thunderstorms are forecast this week, but despite the likelihood of rain, forecasters expect most of the moisture to miss fire impacted areas.

Residents of about 50 homes fled a South Dakota wildfire that raced out of a canyon in the Black Hills, killing a homeowner who went back to retrieve possessions. It also destroyed 27 houses, authorities said.

The fire near Hot Springs was one of dozens raging across the West on Sunday. In the eastern Sierra, firefighters battling a 34,000-acre blaze in California's Inyo National Forest gained ground as reinforcements arrived.

Record heat has hit the West, reports CBS News Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman. Near Las Vegas, it hit 118 degrees. People jumped in the fountains to cool off. Now, as the heat moves east, much of the nation is sweltering.

For the sixth straight day, temperatures in parts of California's rich Central Valley are expected to top the 100-degree mark, reports CBS News correspondent Steve Futterman (audio), and farmers are nervous.

"The damage is already done. You cant take it back," said Kerry Whitson, who grows plums, grapes, and olives. "i think everyone is concerned."

Keith Watkins, who grows oranges and lemons, says consumers will feel the impact.

"There's less fruits produced, less fruits packed, and that can cause higher prices in the market. Everyone's affected," Watkins told Futterman.

Forecasters were calling for afternoon highs approaching 100 in Washington, DC, where the city government has issued a Code Orange alert, meaning air quality will be unhealthy for children, the elderly and people with heart or lung problems. An excessive heat warning was posted for the Philadelphia area, because of the combination of heat and humidity.

It was 96 in downtown Chicago Sunday, not unheard of in July, but well above the average high of 83.

The 53-square mile Inyo National Forest fire was 15 percent contained Sunday after cooler temperatures and lighter winds allowed firefighters to make their first real progress, Forest spokesman Nancy Upham said.

The fire skirted the popular John Muir Wilderness north of Mount Whitney and destroyed at least one home on the mountainside above the town of Independence. A lightning storm ignited the blaze Friday.

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