Strong winds continue to fuel California wildfires

Mendocino Complex Fire

Thousands more mountain residents were evacuated from the path of California's biggest wildfire on Friday as worn out firefighters battled gusting winds driving one of the state's worst fire seasons in a decade. Thousands of people remain evacuated although residents of Kelseyville, Finley and the Big Valley Rancheria were allowed home Tuesday night while the areas remain under an advisory evacuation order for people to be ready to leave if fire conditions change.

Its size overtook the deadly Carr Fire, about 160km to the northeast, which is among 18 significant wildfires burning across California and 106 in the United States. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes, killed eight people and shut down Yosemite National Park. "They've killed, they're killers", said McLean.

The National Weather Service issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions into Saturday, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region would bring afternoon wind gusts. A Red Flag Warning is in effect in Lake County from 11 a.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday due to gusty winds and low humidity in fire weather zones. The two blazes were named as the Mendocino Complex Fire and are threatening 12,200 structures.

The Carr Fire is 39-percent contained, but firefighters are widening fire breaks to prevent winds from causing it to flare up again.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service said that, according to preliminary information, the winds of the column were moving at speeds of 143 miles per hour, classifying it as an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which rates tornado intensity on a range of zero to five. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said.

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

As of Friday morning, CalFire reported that the Ranch Fire was at 112,226 acres and 28 percent containment and the River Fire at 41,512 acres and 50 percent containment.

Air tankers have been dropping fire retardant on two wildfires in Northern California to help try and stop them spreading any further. Six people, including two firefighters, have died in the past week.

Braden Varney, 36, was working alone overnight July 14 fighting the wildfire while his assistant went to get a new hydraulic hose.

The report says the death of the 10-year veteran highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision. The blaze has destroyed more than 1,500 structures, including the homes of three Redding firefighters, according to the GoFundMe site.

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