California wildfire becomes largest in state history

Leroy Wright
August 8, 2018

The 200 troops, plus command and support staff, will get one day of classroom training from firefighters at JBLM this week and then two more days of field training once it's decided which of the 18 major wildfires burning across California they will be asked to help contain.

An air tanker drops retardant on the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burning along High Valley Rd near Clearlake Oaks, California, Aug. 5, 2018.

The Mendocino Complex fire is reportedly growing by thousands of acres daily and has surpassed the state's Thomas fire a year ago, which set ablaze more than 281,000 acres in California.

Evacuation orders were issued across Mendocino, Lake and nearby Colusa counties, though some people were allowed to return home on Monday afternoon, Cal Fire said - more than 20,000 people have been evacuated.

The president, offering no proof of his claims, said the blazes "were made worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilised".

President Donald Trump approved a "major disaster" declaration yesterday and ordered federal assistance for state, tribal, and local efforts to fight fires in California's Shasta County.

Trump's tweet went on: "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!"

Critics said his tweets ignored the greater wildfire frequency and severity experienced in California and other Western states from extreme drought and sustained periods of hot, dry weather, in keeping with the forecasts of climate scientists.

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McLean said firefighters are using the direct approach to prevent the fires from reaching urban areas along Clear Lake while retreating in national forests "and letting the fire come to us". Since 1987, active-duty troops have been called in to support wildfire operations 37 times, according the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Carr Fire, now in its third week, is the sixth most destructive in the state's history, having destroyed more than 1,600 structures, according to Cal Fire.

California fire officials said Monday that the two fires about 100 miles north of San Francisco were 30 percent contained and have scorched 428 square miles.

In fact, another fire that made the list recently, the Soberanes Fire, has already been pushed off - even at more than 132,000 acres.

Wildfires tearing through trees and brush, rampaging up hillsides and incinerating neighbourhoods: The place-names change but the devastation is showing signs of becoming the new normal in California.

Nine people have died as a result of other fires in the state since July, however.

Firefighters predict they'll fully contain the Mendocino Complex fire by August 15.

Another major fire, Ferguson, has left two dead and forced the closure of part of the Yosemite national park, and is now only 38 percent contained.

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