Over 1000 Homes Destroyed in California Wildfires
A huge wildfire in Northern California has torched more than 1,000 homes in and around the city of Redding, authorities said Wednesday as some evacuees were allowed to return home and new blazes exploded in what has become an endless Summer of flame in the Golden State.
“Whatever resources are needed, we’re putting them there,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a news conference. “We’re being surprised. Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons. We’re in uncharted territory.”
Just a month into the budget year, the state has already spent more than 25% of its annual fire budget, at least $125-M, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman said.
The 121,000-acre Redding-area blaze, which started on 23 July, forced 38,000 people from their homes and killed 6. It has scorched 189 sqm (490 sqk) and is 35% contained.
At least 3 new fires erupted Wednesday in the Sierra Nevada region, including a blaze in Placer County that had consumed 1 1/2 sqm (1,000 acres or 4 sqk) of land.
North of San Francisco, a fire threatened homes in an old ranching and farming area near Covelo. About 60 homes were ordered evacuated as the blaze erupted late Tuesday and winds whipped flames through brush, grass, oak, pine and fir near the Mendocino National Forest, officials said.
To the east, another blaze Tuesday night raged through grassy cattle lands near Yuba City, covering more than 1 1/2 sqm (4 sqm) in a few hours. The new fires erupted without warning and spread with shocking speed through forest and brush that have literally become tinder.
“It just goes on and on,” says a CalFire official
“We had this rain at the beginning of the year and all that did was promote the growing of grass and brush,” he said. “It’s a Catch-22. It’s growing more product to catch on fire.”
He said the state really never left its drought status and several years of significant rainfall are needed to bring the state back. McLean also had a warning for people visiting rural and wilderness areas.
“Pay attention,” he said. “Don’t park the car on dry grass … no campfires, no flame. It doesn’t take anything to start a fire right now.”
The new fire near Covelo was only about 40 mi (64 km) north of where twin fires in Mendocino and Lake counties have burned an area three times the size of San Francisco, destroyed 14 homes and threatened 12,000 more.
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. Containment grew overnight to 24%.
In Shasta County’s Carr Fire, authorities said Wednesday all those reported missing had been located. A relative identified the latest known fatal victim as Daniel Bush, 62 anni.
National Park Service officials said Tuesday that the scenic Yosemite Valley and other areas will be closed at least through Sunday due to heavy smoke from the so-called Ferguson Fire. The closure began on 25 July.
It was the longest closure at Yosemite since Y 1997, when floods closed the park for over 2 months.
Authorities Wednesday also ordered the evacuation of the tiny community of Wawona, south of the park, which has fewer than 200 residents.