Trump Approves Disaster Declaration for California as Wildfires Claim Utility Worker's Life

Larry Hoffman
August 7, 2018

The raging Mendocino Complex fire has officially become the largest wildfire in California's history, authorities have confirmed.

A combination of wildfires raging north of San Francisco, which already has consumed an area nearly as big as Los Angeles, is on pace to become the largest in California history, fire officials said. But officials say the twin fires threaten 9,000 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

About 200 active-duty troops from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, will get a quick course in becoming "wildland firefighters" to battle the deadly wildfires devastating wide swaths of California, the Pentagon said Monday.

He was the seventh person to die in that blaze, which has scorched more than 160,000 acres (64,750 hectares) in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento, including two young children and their great-grandmother whose home was overrun by flames, and two firefighters.

The Carr Fire, which incinerated 1,067 homes, started with sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer's flat tire, Department of Agriculture and Fire Prevention officials said. Major reservoirs are near the worst fire zones; the Carr fire is near Lake Shasta and Whiskeytown Lake and the Mendocino Complex fire is near Clear Lake. Altogether, the Mendocino Complex Fire has burned 273,664 acres - growing about 70% over the weekend.

Meanwhile, firefighters are battling more than a dozen other major fires amid California's hot and dry weather. He said climate change is making these conditions more frequent. As of Monday afternoon, the fire has destroyed a total of 87 residences and 82 other structures, with news agencies reporting seven deaths so far across California. The almost century-old Dardanelle Resort has sustained massive structural damage, though the details were unclear, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

For the period from January 1 through July 29, 2018, there were 3,770 California wildfires. 20 into Lake County remained closed because crews were "still in the affected areas conducting assessments and repairs to damaged infrastructure".

Combined, they form the biggest blaze that California firefighters are now battling.

But firefighters were able to hold the fire at one of the dozer lines created during the Pawnee Fire earlier this year, and we have "structure protection in place in High Valley, and the fire is backing down over High Valley Ridge".

Cal Fire Division Chief Chris Anthony, who has been working on the Carr Fire since late last month, stressed the impact that changes to the environment and climate have caused. Eagle Meadow Road was also closed and evacuated. The Ranch Fire, which has burned over 225,000 acres, sit at only 21 percent contained.

Last year's Thomas fire, which consumed 281,000 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, remains the state's largest on record.

"The Ranch Fire continues to grow in the north and south eastern directions, threatening communities in the fires path", said Cal Fire.

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