Air Tanker Deployed to Contain Devastating Mendocino Complex Wildfires

07 August, 2018, 14:46 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Twin Northern California fires force thousands to flee homes

LAKEPORT, Calif. (AP) - Twin Northern California blazes fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather grew Monday to become the second-largest wildfire in state history, becoming the norm as climate change makes the fire season longer and more severe. 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. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said. California has not recorded a tornado of that strength since 1978.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, made up of two separate conflagrations that merged near Ukiah, north of Sacramento, exploded by 25 percent overnight and had blackened almost 400 square miles as of Sunday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The Carr Fire in northern California has burned more than 130,000 acres in a two-week span, killing six people, displacing 35,000, and destroying more than 1,500 buildings. It has so far killed a firefighter, bulldozer operator, and a grandmother with her two grandchildren, and two others.

It burned so furiously on July 26 that it created a "fire whirl". "When the winds are strong enough and the fire is hot enough, sometimes, the rising air columns start to rotate".

The Mendocino Complex fire, as it's called, consists of two separate conflagrations that had consumed more than 200,000 acres by Saturday afternoon and had forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

The combined fires have prompted about 15,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Yesterday, Firefighters had managed to contain 41 per cent of the Carr blaze, and authorities were letting some evacuees return.

On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Cal Fire announced that the Eel Fire, is "no longer a Cal Fire incident" and had been transitioned to the U.S. Forest Service - Mendocino National Forest.

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

CBN News' Heather Sells is in California covering the wildfires.

The report says 36-year-old Braden Varney was working alone overnight July 14 fighting a wildfire sparked hours earlier outside Yosemite National Park.

More immediately, the declaration will enable federal agencies to help battle the 17 major fires burning throughout the state.

Several days of light winds have helped teams control smaller blazes, but they faced a "red flag" warning for increasing winds and heightened fire danger going into the weekend. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

Other fires raging in the state include the Mendocino Complex, comprised of two blazes: the River Fire and the Ranch Fire.

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

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