Firefighters battling hundreds of blazes that closed campgrounds to Labor Day vacationers and blackened an estimated 998 square miles in eight western states say they have turned the corner on some of the biggest hot spots.
An estimated 22,000 firefighters battled more than 1,800 fires still burning in the West, according to Erik Martin of the Boise Interagency Fire Center in Idaho, which coordinates state and federal crews. Three firefighters have been killed, all in vehicle accidents.
Some blazes had to be left to burn as the focus of firefighting efforts narrowed to California, where more than 491,000 acres have been consumed since Aug. 28, and Oregon, with nearly 103,000 acres blackened.
The Stanislaus National Forest, site of the state's biggest fire, the 120,000-acre Paper Complex blaze, was among several national forests closed to hikers and campers for the holiday weekend.
That fire, west of Yosemite National Park, destroyed $102 million worth of timber, enough to build 10,000 three-bedroom homes, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dick Wisehart.
With more than 1,000 fires contained, "now we can concentrate on the fewer big blazes that remain," said Mike Milosch, a spokesman for the joint state-federal fire information center in Sacramento, Calif.