Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Latest news
Main » Seventh person dies as northern California wildfires spread

Seventh person dies as northern California wildfires spread

05 August 2018

At least 89 structures have been destroyed, half of which were residential homes, and about 9,200 remain under threat.

Two firefighters and four others have been killed in the fire that has swept through mountains and burned into the western side of city of Redding.

Fire crews from Australia and New Zealand are heading to California to aid in the massive battle against wildfires, according to Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott. They have grown to nearly 250 square miles (648 kilometers).

Following years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat, vast tracts of forests, chaparral and grasslands have become tinder that allows even a small spark to explode into a devouring blaze, authorities said. The forecast included extremely low humidity levels that leave vegetation ready to burn.

Fueled by triple-digit temperatures, the blazes have put California on track for its most destructive fire year since 2008, in terms of area burned, said Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean.

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

The global fire teams from Australia and New Zealand will arrive in Redding on Monday, Pimlott said.

Its size overtook the deadly Carr Fire, about 100 miles (160 km) to the northeast, which is among 17 major blazes burning in tinder-dry forests and woodland peppered with dead trees from the state's 2011-2017 drought.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Jane LaBoa says a wildfire remains several miles from the communities along the eastern shore of Clear Lake, about 110 miles (175 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

Two blazes collectively called the Mendocino Complex burnt in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties, about 145 km north of San Francisco.

However, most evacuations were lifted by Saturday in and around Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft continue battling an enormous blaze about 100 miles south of the OR line. The fire rapidly swept down the hillside, as the 747 bomber, DC10 and the C-130 planes doused the area with retardant, followed up by continuous water by helicopters.

The fire burned slowly for days before winds suddenly whipped it up last week and drove it furiously through brush and timber.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service said that, according to preliminary information, the winds of the column were moving at speeds of 143 miles per hour, classifying it as an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which rates tornado intensity on a range of zero to five.

It burned so furiously on July 26 that it created what is called a fire whirl.

The blaze is now 41 percent contained.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which uses acres to describe fire size, said the blaze had blackened almost 206 square miles (533 square kilometers).

The report says the death of the 10-year veteran highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

Seventh person dies as northern California wildfires spread