Northern California wildfire may continue as weather worsens

Marsha Scott
August 5, 2018

Firefighters battling deadly and destructive blazes in Northern California faced worsening weather conditions on Friday after a record-breaking fire tornado last week.

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.

A fire whirl spawned by the Carr Fire carried wind speeds equivalent to an EF-3 tornado, the National Weather Service said on Thursday.

The "firenado" also left behind damage that looked more like the work of a tornado than a wildfire-tiles stripped from roofs, trees uprooted, cars moved, a transmission tower tipped over.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Jane LaBoa says a wildfire remains several miles from the communities along the eastern shore of Clear Lake, about 110 miles (175 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

"This is a particularly unsafe situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".

An estimated 14,000 people were under evacuation orders and the U.S. Forest Service said the fires continued to grow rapidly thanks to hot, dry windy weather and tinder-dry brush.

Forecasters said the highest threat areas included the so-called Carr Fire near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco.

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The 206-square-mile (533-square-kilometer) Carr Fire 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the OR border was 39 percent contained after destroying 1,060 homes and many other structures.

A home at the bottom of the hill was surrounded by fire trucks, with flames just outside its back yard.

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

He said whirls are created when hot air rises and twists tightly.

New mandatory evacuation orders were issued Fiday for residents living near the Mendocino Complex Fires.

"It's going to be a very dynamic day and the fire has the potential to impact several communities", said Cal Fire Mendocino Complex Fire Operations Section Chief Charlie Blankenheim during his morning briefing August 4, explaining that on Friday afternoon, the Ranch Fire "made a big push to the south and the east, and overnight continued to burn very, very actively and was backing down into the community of Lucerne, and it made a good push across Long Valley Ridge".

Another fire located 100 miles to the northeast has already seen six deaths with 41 percent of that blaze reportedly under control.

Most of the Ranch fire expansion was from the fire's press deeper into the Mendocino National Forest, a Cal Fire spokesman said Wednesday.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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