Fires threaten national park’s icons

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. West (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

Winds are pushing wildfires burning around two crown jewels of the National Park Service toward the doorstep of a century-old lodge and into an ancient grove of sequoias.

The fires in Montana’s Glacier National Park and outside of California’s Yosemite National Park are not only disrupting Labor Day travel plans, they are threatening the areas’ natural and manmade icons.

A 14-square-mile (36 square kilometer) fire that consumed a historic Glacier backcountry chalet last week is moving toward Lake McDonald Lodge, a focal point for park visitors.

Rangers have evacuated tourists, laid hoses and sprinklers around the hotel and are standing guard as the wind drives the blaze down the mountainside toward the lake’s shores.

Outside Yosemite, it’s not clear whether a 15-square-mile (39-square-kilometer) fire has damaged any of the 2,700-year-old trees in the Nelder Grove.

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12:15 p.m.

Fire officials say a blaze burning in a rural part of Northern California has destroyed 72 homes.

Fire information officer Bill Paxton said Monday the fire near the Trinity County community of Helena had forced about 2,000 people to evacuate.

Helena is about 150 miles south of the Oregon border on the edge of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The fire has burned 14 square miles (36 kilometers) and is 14 percent contained. Paxton said crews were improving containment lines, and they appeared to be holding the blaze.

Fire officials, meanwhile, said 32 homes were destroyed by a separate fire in rural Butte County. That’s up from the initial assessment of 20 homes.

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10:05 a.m.

Officials say winds from a thunderstorm pushed a blaze near Yosemite National Park farther into a grove of 2,700-year-old giant sequoias.

Fire information officer Anne Grandy said Monday that crews don’t know yet whether the 15-square-mile (39 kilometer) fire has damaged any trees in Nelder Grove outside the park. She says giant sequoias are resilient and can withstand low intensity fires.

A thunderstorm over the blaze on Sunday pushed it out about a mile (1.6 kilometers) in a span of two hours. The fire is partially contained and has forced the evacuation of a small town.

The Nelder Grove holds more than 100 giant sequoias, including one of the world’s largest, the 24-story-high Bull Buck sequoia

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11:45 a.m.

Officials say a Los Angeles fire that destroyed four homes and threatened hillside neighborhoods is no longer burning…

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