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Two firefighters killed battling Arizona blaze; wildfires rage in Oregon, California

Two firefighters died while combatting the Cedar Basin Fire in Arizona on Saturday while the Bootleg Fire in Oregon and Beckwourth Complex Fire in California, pictured here, both rapidly expanded in size. Photo courtesy InciWeb
Two firefighters died while combatting the Cedar Basin Fire in Arizona on Saturday while the Bootleg Fire in Oregon and Beckwourth Complex Fire in California, pictured here, both rapidly expanded in size. Photo courtesy InciWeb

July 11 (UPI) -- Two firefighters died battling a blaze in Arizona as wildfires burn throughout the West amid record heat.

The firefighters died in a plane crash Saturday while performing aerial reconnaissance and command control over the Cedar Basin Fire near the Prescott National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement.

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"Our hearts are heavy tonight with sincere condolences to families, loved ones and firefighters affected by this tragic aviation accident that occurred today in Arizona on the Cedar Basin Fire," the agency said.

The Cedar Basin Fire was sparked by lightning and first reported on Friday, it has since grown to 714 acres, according to InciWeb.

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In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire exploded to a size of 143,607 acres as more than 900 fire personnel worked to combat the blaze that was first reported on Tuesday.

Fire officials said they hope to have the fire fully contained by July 27.

"The fire will continue to be extremely active in unchecked portions of the perimeter, with unstable air conditions and extremely dry fuels and likely development of pyro-cumulus," officials said. Spread direction will be dictated primarily by topography and drought-stressed fuels. Continued persistent drought and dry conditions will encourage spotting.

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The Bootleg Fire also knocked out transmission lines delivering power to California decreasing the state's power supply by up to 5,500 megawatts, the California Independent System Operator said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed an executive order on Saturday to allow the use of auxiliary ship engines to relieve pressure on the electric grid.

Also in California, the Beckwourth Complex Fire doubled in size to 83,926 acres and just 8% containment on Sunday.

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Late Saturday, the flames jumped U.S. 395, closing the highway from Hallelujah Junction to County Road A-26 in Lassen County, and State Route 284 was closed at the junction with State Route 70 in Plumas County.

Evacuation orders were in effect for the regions of Rancho Haven, Fish Springs and Flanigan Flats as the blaze threatens properties along the border with Nevada's Washoe County.

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