California wildfire will burn for the rest of August, say officials

by Garry Watts August 8, 2018, 1:38
California wildfire will burn for the rest of August, say officials

California's firefighting resources are stretched thin dealing with some 20 fires burning throughout the state, which means the Arizona crews play a crucial role.

The fire is now raging at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest, where crews are battling to keep flames from descending into foothill communities.

The 14th Engineer Battalion soldiers were chosen for their engineering expertise and are likely to aid civilian firefighters in operations including digging trenches and building fire breaks, officials said.

No homes are immediately threatened but officials warn that smoke could blanket neighborhoods and create unhealthy conditions. It killed two firefighters and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.

The blaze was only 30% contained.

The fast-moving inferno, sparked Friday, July 27 in Northern California, has now scorched 290,692 acres and is just 34% contained, according to California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Experts say this may become the new normal as climate change coupled with the expansion of homes into undeveloped areas creates more intense and devastating blazes.

"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.

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"We have plenty of water to fight these wildfires, but let's be clear: It's our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires", Daniel Berlant, CalFire assistant deputy director, told The New York Times.

The resort owners said in a Facebook post that "at this point it has been confirmed that there is 'massive structural damage.' We are heartbroken and struggling with this news".

It is the largest of eight major fires burning out of control across California, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a "major disaster" in the state.

Almost half of the ten largest California wildfires on record occurred in the last decade.

Aerial view of Trabuco Canyon as a tanker aircraft dumps load onto Holy Fire, Near Santiago Peak, California, U.S., August 6, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. The engine company is assisting on the Donnell Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest, north of Yosemite.

The River Fire is smaller, scorching 48,920 acres so far, and burning to the west of Clear Lake.

Two fires mercilessly roaring through northern California have grown so rapidly that they are now the largest ever to ravage the state, authorities said. The Ranch Fire, which has burned over 225,000 acres, sit at only 21 percent contained. Easter lives in the Spring Valley community of Clearlake Oaks, which evacuated last Friday as the Ranch Fire pushed to the south and east. Mandatory evacuations are still in place for areas in Lake, Colusa, and Mendocino County. The Thomas Fire from 2017 is the largest, having burned 281,893 acres.

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