Growing California fires prompt new evacuations

07 August, 2018, 14:48 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Credit PA

Both areas remained under a "red flag warning" issued by the National Weather Service for strong winds, low relative humidity and temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), all conditions that can drive the growth of wildfires. The twirling tower of flame reached speeds of 143 miles per hour (230 kph), which rivaled some of the most destructive Midwest tornados, National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema said. In an interview with the Associated Press, NWS meteorologist Duane Dykema said the phenomenon was on par with some of the most destructive Midwest tornadoes.

Dykema said the whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from home.

The Trump administration declared a "major disaster" in California as the state fights devastating wildfires that have now claimed at least eight lives.

The fire has also razed more than 1,600 buildings, including some 1,000 homes, making it the sixth most destructive blaze in the history of the fire-prone western state, state officials say.

The blaze in the Redding area, 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of San Francisco, is the largest of 18 wildfires burning throughout California.

It killed two people, including a firefighter, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings before being fully contained on January 12.

That blaze has killed two firefighters and five civilians and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

At the peak of the fires more than 55,000 people were evacuated from their homes, Brown wrote.

The blaze burned so furiously on July 26 that it created a "fire whirl".

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More evacuations were ordered Saturday afternoon for an area of Mendocino and Lake counties where the week-old twin fires are threatening about 9,000 homes.

Made up of the Ranch and River fires, combined the complex sits at over 125,168 acres as of Thursday night, and is 39% contained.

They included a bulldozer operator whose vehicle almost slipped off a mountain trail three times before it rolled into a ravine and crushed him at the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park, a Cal Fire report said.

But LaBoa says its trajectory and the weather forecast prompted officials to evacuate the communities Friday out of an abundance of caution.

Gov. Jerry Brown at a press conference on August 1 warned that California may be in trouble if these mega fires continue to ravage the state.

Yosemite Valley residents must leave the valley by noon Friday, National Park Service officials said.

Firefighting costs have more than tripled from $242 million in the 2013 fiscal year to $773 million in the 2018 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

"I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now", he said.

The report called for better "risk assessment" among firefighters.

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