Firefighters made some progress yesterday against the largest of the forest and brush fires that have charred more than 900 square miles in the West, and soldiers and federal workers were given crash courses to join the battle. One firefighter was killed and six seriously injured in a vehicle accident in California, officials said.

A California brewery converted its canning line from beer to water to provide drinking water for some of the more than 20,000 firefighters at work. Crews were stretched so thin that no one was fighting dozens of fires in northern California.

The burned area in California had grown to 450,000 acres, and 105,000 acres were burned in Oregon. About 31,000 acres had burned in Idaho. Other fires were in Washington state, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming, bringing the total acreage to about 600,000 for the week, although several blazes had been contained or extinguished.

There were still "about 600 to 900 fires burning" in California, said Mike Milosch, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Progress was reported in the battle against California's biggest blaze, an 111,000-acre inferno in Tuolumne County in the Sierra Nevada range.

One Tuolumne County blaze crept to within a half-mile of the Merced Grove of giant Sequoia redwoods in Yosemite National Park, and firefighters cleared a perimeter to try to protect the mammoth trees, the Forest Service said.