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Firefighters gain on deadly California blaze

Firefighters gain on deadly California blaze

Across California, more than 13,000 firefighters are battling 16 major blazes that have burned more than 320,000 acres - more than 500 square miles - and 32,000 residents remain evacuated from their homes, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday at a briefing at the state Office of Emergency Services. It's already the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history and is only 30 percent contained.

Twin wildfires tearing through vineyards and brushy hills threatened some 10,000 homes in Northern California Tuesday - yet another front in the seemingly endless summer of wildfires that have ravaged some of the most scenic areas of the state. In all, some 19,000 people have been warned to flee, fire officials said.

The Carr Fire is so large and intense that it created its own localized weather system, making it hard to predict which way the blaze will spread.

The state has spent more than $114 million fighting fires in July, the first month of California's fiscal year. "A lack of available suppression and overhead personnel will also slow the firefighting efforts", said officials on the Cal Fire website in a Sunday morning update.

McLean, the state fire spokesman, said there was no guarantee of safety in a state that has been ravaged by years of drought that has turned trees and brush to tinder.

The Lake County seat of Lakeport remained under evacuation orders and was a virtual ghost town, although people were allowed back home in several smaller communities as firefighters shored up containment lines.

The 2015 Valley Fire, which came on the heels of two other fires, killed four and destroyed 1,300 homes when it blew up unexpectedly during a September heat wave.

Unlike the Carr Fire, authorities don't know what started Ferguson, which has now engulfed more than 58,000 acres. It is 35 per cent contained. The Ferguson Fire, which has claimed the lives of two firefighters, had burned nearly 100 square miles and was 39 percent contained after burning for nearly three weeks.

Erratic winds and record high temperatures have fueled blazes that blackened almost 410,000 acres in California, the state's highest year-to-date level in a decade.

"You see out there what the firefighters have done to get themselves in front of your homes", Myers said.

On Saturday, fire officials ordered evacuations.

"If we'd been able to go in when we wanted to, he'd be alive right now", she said.

The east-west route in the park - Big Oak Flat Road, or California 120 West, to Crane Flat and Tioga Road, or California 120 East - remains open.


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