(LOS ANGELES) — Wildfires forced thousands to flee their homes across the U.S. West during a sweltering, smoke-shrouded holiday weekend of record heat.
The fires Sunday caused evacuations in Glacier National Park in Montana and many other parts of the West; compelled crews to rescue about 140 hikers who had spent the night in the woods after fire broke out along the popular Columbia River Gorge Trail in Oregon; and led firefighters to step up efforts to protect a 2,700-year-old grove of giant sequoia encroached by flames near Yosemite National Park in California.
A sudden gusty series of rainstorms allowed Los Angeles, however, to cancel evacuation orders for a wildfire that the mayor called the largest in the city’s history and sent beach umbrellas and toy shovels bouncing down SouthernCalifornia beaches late Sunday.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had declared a local emergency earlier Sunday and Gov. Jerry Brown did the same on the state level for Los Angeles County after the wildfire destroyed three homes and threatened hillside neighborhoods. More than a thousand firefighters battled flames that chewed through more than 9 square miles (23 kilometers) of brush-covered mountains.