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article imageLow humidity and high winds fuel growth of California wildfires

By Karen Graham     Aug 4, 2018 in Environment
Sacramento - Fire crews battling deadly Northern California wildfires Saturday braced for two days of windy, hot weather that could drive the flames into new areas and threaten more homes.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions through Saturday night, “This is a particularly dangerous situation with extremely low humidity and high winds. New fires will grow rapidly out of control, in some cases people may not be able to evacuate safely in time should a fire approach,” the weather service said in its bulletin for the Mendocino area north of San Francisco.
Cal Fire now says that over 14,000 personnel are on the lines of 17 large blazes across California on Saturday. The blazes have burned over 450,000 acres (703 square miles) and damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 structures. At least 16,500 homes are still threatened by these fires and over 40,000 residents are under evacuation orders.
The Mendocino Complex Fire
The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the state's largest fire at more than two-thirds the size of sprawling Los Angeles and has forced the evacuation of nearly 16,000 residents and destroyed more than 100 structures.
The Mendocino Complex fire has scorched 314 square miles (813 square kilometers), making it the 7th largest ever in the state. The Complex fire consists of a pair of fires, the Ranch Fire, and the River Fire. The Ranch Fire was 156,678 acres (245 square miles) and the River Fire was 44,793 acres (70 square miles) as of Saturday morning.
However, take note: Contrary to a tweet sent out Friday night around 9: p.m., the two fires have not merged. Cal Fire spokeswoman Heather Williams said Friday night that the fires had not merged and that the fires were 4 to 5 miles apart as of 10 p.m. Friday.
The Ranch Fire is 27 percent contained and the River Fire is 50 percent, but the latest weather conditions have prompted additional evacuation orders in Lake and Mendocino counties. The Mendocino Complex has destroyed at least 55 homes, 47 other structures and threatens 12,300 buildings, Cal Fire reports.
The latest update on the Carr Fire
The Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties has burned 141,825 acres (222 square miles) and is 41 percent contained. It is the 6th most destructive fire in California’s history and has killed six people, destroyed 1,073 homes, and 506 other structures, and damaged 258 structures in total. Burning for 13 days, the Carr Fire still threatens 1,358 structures.
CNN is reporting that a tire reportedly blew on a tractor-trailer, which caused a spark when the rim of the tire struck the asphalt, according to fire officials. The Carr Fire is also the 13th-deadliest and 18th-largest wildfire in the Golden State has seen since records began.
"Whatever resources are needed, we're putting them there," California Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters. "We're being surprised. Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons. We're in uncharted territory."
The Ferguson Fire burning near Yosemite National Park has burned 80,755 acres (126 square miles) and is 36 percent contained on Saturday. Yosemite remains closed to visitors at least through Sunday at this time. The northern third of the park remains open.
Australia and New Zealand announced earlier this past week they will send 146 firefighters and fire managers to the United States to assist crews, the Associated Press reported.
More about California, Wildfires, red flag warnings, extreme low humidity, High winds
 
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