Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Firefighters outflank California blaze, last four missing found alive

Capture californiafire-600 California's Carr Fire 30 Percent Contained As New Blazes Erupt Elsewhere
Andrew Cummings | 03 August, 2018, 06:31

Firefighters in Northern California are making progress tackling a stubborn blaze that has already consumed more than 1,000 homes.

As of Thursday afternoon, both the Bumper Fire and the Omega Fire were largely contained.

California Gov. Jerry Brown says his state is in "uncharted territory" with the current slew of intense wildfires and he warns that climate change has made the situation "part of our ordinary experience".

The toll of devastation from one of the most brutal fires in California history rose Wednesday to more than 1,000 homes destroyed and nearly 200 damaged as a sprawling wildfire ignited by a spark from a towed vehicle grew to 180 square miles.

With a red flag warning posted for this evening through Saturday, firefighters are continuing to be challenged by the Carr Fire, which now stands at 125,842 acres and remains at 35 percent containment.

"We are starting to see more successes than losses on this fire", Gouvea said.

Despite the outlook, strong gusts along the upper ridge lines were a concern on the fire's rugged western flanks, a few miles from the town of Lewiston, which remained evacuated.

Yosemite Valley and other areas of the park have been closed to tourists since July 25 because of heavy smoke from the fire, which has burned almost 26,000 hectares and is only 39 per cent contained.

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Incident Commander Brett Gouvea said weather was helping.

Firefighters on a structure protection team watch a plume of smoke grow from the Ranch Fire (Mendocino Complex) in the hills north of Upper Lake, California, U.S. August 1, 2018. CAL FIRE said Wednesday morning that a total of 10 residences have been destroyed in the two fires, but it is not clear if that number includes what could be additional losses late in the day on Tuesday. "It takes a toll on people".

Fire officials lifted some evacuation orders Wednesday.

However, authorities who had feared there might be more casualties reported on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) that all those who had been reported missing had been located.

"We know one of the most stressful things during a disaster is information", Shasta County Fire Chief Mike Hebrard acknowledged.

"We pretty much lost everything", said Smith, 77, who has lived in the neighborhood with her 80-year-old husband for 29 years.

Fire officials said such blazes had been fueled by several years of drought-dessicated vegetation, and stoked by frequent and persistent bouts of erratic winds and triple-digit temperatures.

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