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Heat expands in U.S., wildfires rage, 'doomsday' planes damaged

Staff Writer |
Record-challenging heat will expand into the Pacific Northwest as hot, dry weather elevates the wildfire risk in the Southwest through Sunday.

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The core of extreme heat will spread northward as a high pressure area expands over the West.

A high pressure area is a mainly dry weather feature that can lead to intense heat waves during the spring and summer months.

As these features move or weaken, the core of the heat shifts.

“Heat will get supercharged across the Pacific Northwest through the weekend,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Michael LeSeney said.

Fire officials in Utah said the Brian Head wildfire nearly doubled in size overnight Thursday, threatening another resort town in the rural southwestern portion of the state.

The fire forced the evacuation of Brian Head, Utah, a tiny ski town where about 750 people were told to leave on Saturday. On Friday, the Mammoth Springs area also was evacuated.

The fire grew to more than 28,000 acres across two counties Friday and is 5 percent contained, officials said Friday. Strong winds and hot temperatures fanned the fire, which grew by 17,000 acres in a single night.

The fire is encroaching on about 400 cabins on the north and east sides of Panguitch Lake, a popular summer tourist destination for fishing. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office said they did not have an exact count on how many people have evacuated the north side of the lake, but some residents crossed to the south side, which was not under immediate threat.

Tourists planning to visit the area were cut off because the fire forced the closure of State Route 143, the lone point of access to the lake. Officials have not given a timetable for when the road will reopen.

A tornado at a U.S. Air Force base in Nebraska damaged 10 aircrafts including two E-4B "doomsday" planes.

The two E-4Bs, which serve as the military's National Airborne Operations Center during national emergencies, were knocked out of service when a tornado struck Offutt Air Force Base on June 16.

In the event ground bases are destroyed, the "doomsday" plane acts as the command and control hub for the president, secretary of defense and joint chiefs.

The U.S. military has a total of four E-4B planes in the fleet, but officials said it would still be able to carry out a mission with half the fleet damaged.

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