Mendocino Complex now second-largest wildfire in California history, Cal Fire says

Hannah Rogers
August 7, 2018

Access to Yosemite Valley is closed through Sunday due to fire operations, the NPS said. Workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.

A spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, told SFGate she is unaware of any water shortages at the Carr or Mendocino Complex fires, the worst fire zones in the state.

The NWS issued red flag warnings of critical fire weather conditions through Saturday night, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region could bring wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour that could turn small fires or even sparks into racing walls of flames.

The complex of fire has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state because it is mostly raging in remote areas.

Authorities have reopened more evacuated neighbourhoods as ground crews, aided by diminished winds, extended buffer lines carved out of thick, dry brush along the fire's edge to 35 percent of its perimeter, officials said.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) commanders said on Wednesday the fire, sparked by a vehicle on July 23, was burning with less intensity this week and posed little immediate threat to populated areas.

High temperatures, low humidity and afternoon winds along with low fuel moistures are aiding large fire growth, officials said.

But tens of thousands of others were still under evacuation orders.

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Those figures, along with the fact that large fires are starting earlier in the year, has state officials anxious.

Two recent examples are the Carr Fire that's destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and near Redding - it's already the sixth-most destructive in state history - and the Ferguson Fire that forced the closure of part of Yosemite National Park in late July, at the height of tourist season.

As of Saturday, the Carr Fire is 39 percent contained, and firefighting reinforcements are coming to California from as far as New Zealand.

The fire also killed two firefighters. The Carr fire, burning about 162 miles north of Sacramento, killed a power company lineman, according to a CBS affiliate.

Sheriffs said all three men were arrested for interfering with Firefighters During a Fire Operation and Unauthorized Person in an Evacuation Area and released with a citation.

Six people, including two firefighters, have died, and the fire has destroyed 1,060 homes and almost 500 other buildings, making it the sixth-most-destructive wildfire in California history, officials said. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

A team of 188 specialist Australian and New Zealand firefighters are also on the ground in California to help battle the blazes.

The report says his death highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

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