Thousands of Families on High Alert as Wildfires Double in Size

Homes threatened by growing wildfire overnight, residents forced to evacuate.
3:28 | 08/18/13

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Transcript for Thousands of Families on High Alert as Wildfires Double in Size
We do begin tonight with what will be a tense evening ahead for thousands of families who have been told to be at the ready, that their homes could be next. As that wildfire in the west has now doubled in size. Even the emergency tents set up in idaho sit in the shadow of the schick plthick plumes of smoke tonight. On the ground this sunday, more of those elite crews of firefighters arriving. The hotshot teams hiking toward the fires now. And here's what they're up against tonight. More than 2,300 homes evacuated. Almost 8,000 more told to start packing. 700 firefighters, as the blaze burns across 160 square miles, just 9% contained tonight. And this beaver creek fire is just one of 42 large fires now burning across 11 states. Abc's aditi roy is reporting in from idaho tonight. Reporter: It is a race against time. Those 700 firefighters battling the blaze. Today, winds whipped the flames, as reinforcements arrived. Five elite hotshot teams joining the fight on the ground with air support overhead. Across the fire zone, residents are packing up and getting out. You never stop thinking about, am I going to lose my house? Now it's just kind of wait and see what happens. You can't control it. Reporter: Roads are jammed with traffic as thick smoke and ash clogs the air. Our affiliate reporter from kivi, roland beres, is on the ground and says residents are on edge. Local pharmacists say they've seen a huge run on face masks like this one, although that may change, after local health experts told the community that these really don't do anything to protect against heavy smoke like that. Bad news for asthmatics who have been having a really tough time and are buying up inhalers as fast as pharmacies can stock them. Reporter: Insurance companies are sending in their own crews to protect homes. And ski resorts are turning on snow-making equipment for several hours a day, hoping to protect their mountains as the fire continues to burn out of control. Officials are getting ready to send planes like this military c-130 out to the scene. It's been specifically retrofitted to fight fires. That orange nozzle that you see? It can drop up to 3,000 gallons of retardant. David? Just a huge team there on the ground. Aditi, thanks to you. I want to bring in abc meteorologist ginger zee, who is also tracking this tonight. You were telling me, this could get worse before it gets better? Yeah, the fire forecast not that great. I want to show you red flag warnings and fish watre watches california all the way to montana. And there's a reason why these extend to the midweek. We have this low pressure system coming onshore in central and northern california. That's going to dump thunderstorms. You would think that sounds good, but it's not. You have winds through them. It will track up through idaho and utah, too. All the areas that have fires could seal more. And we are tracking the flooding on the other sidle of the country tonight. This is from biloxi, mississippi, the truck tearing through the water there. And from panama city, florida, tonight, this apartment complex, completely flooded out. These totals are really something. This is beyond the annoyance level and now it's to almost dangerous. People are losing their property. And places like gulfport, mississippi, today, six inches in two hours. It comes down fast and it's not over. That stationary front still sitting there for the next two days at least. However much rain does it mean? Two to three inches in the red zone, from mobile into parts of the florida panhanding, right there, just north of atlanta.

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