Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Blaze becomes largest in Californian history

Reuters, LOS ANGELES

Crystal Easter, of Spring Valley, comforts her dogs, on Monday in Spring Valley, California, as they flee a wildfire. This is the second time this year Easter has had to evacuate.

Photo: AP

California’s biggest wildfire on record yesterday raged as hot and windy conditions challenged thousands of fire crews battling eight major blazes burning out of control across the state.

The Mendocino Complex on Monday grew to span 114,526 hectares when two wildfires merged at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.

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

The size of the fire has surpassed that of last year’s Thomas Fire, which burned 114,078 hectares in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties when it destroyed more than 1,000 structures.

The Mendocino Complex has burnt 75 homes and forced thousands to be evacuated.

Temperatures could reach 43oC in Northern California over the next few days with gusty winds fanning the flames of the complex, a US National Weather Service meteorologist said.

The 3,900 crews battling the Mendocino Complex were on Monday focusing on keeping flames from breaking through fire lines on a ridge above the foothill communities of Nice, Lucerne, Glen Haven and Clearlake Oaks, Cal Fire spokeswoman Tricia Austin said.

Elsewhere, evacuations were ordered for cabins in Cleveland National Forest canyons in Orange County on Monday afternoon after a blaze broke out and quickly spread to span 283 hectares.

The Carr Fire — which has torched 66,536 hectares in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento since breaking out on July 23 — was 47 percent contained.

The Carr Fire has been blamed for seven deaths, including a 21-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company lineman Jay Ayeta, whom the company on Sunday said was killed in a vehicle crash as he worked with crews in dangerous terrain.

“California wildfires are being magnified and made so much worse by the bad environmental laws, which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

A Cal Fire spokesman declined to comment on Trump’s tweet, but said crews did not lack water to fight the flames.

Environmental activists and some politicians have said the intensity of the state’s wildfire season could be linked in part to climate change.

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