Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Twin NorCal Wildfires Force Thousands to Flee, Dozens Of Homes Destroyed

Twin NorCal Wildfires Force Thousands to Flee, Dozens Of Homes Destroyed

A 100-square-mile (259-square-kilometer) fire near Yosemite National Park prompted evacuation orders for the community of Wawona inside the park, which has fewer than 200 residents.

Yosemite Valley residents must leave the valley by noon Friday, National Park Service officials said.

This is the seventh death associated with the Carr Fire, and the ninth death of this wildfire season. It has so far killed a firefighter, bulldozer operator, and a grandmother with her two grandchildren, and two others.

California Governor Jerry Brown, who visited some of the burned areas on Saturday, said, "This is part of a trend, the new normal, that we've got to deal with".

Following years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat, enormous tracts of forests, chaparral and grasslands have become tinder that allows even a small spark to explode into a devouring blaze, authorities said.

About two-thirds the size of Los Angeles, the fires are scorching earth about 130km north of San Francisco, and have forced the evacuation of more than 20,000 people.

The National Weather Service has issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions Friday and Saturday as a series of dry low-pressure systems pass through the region, bringing gusts up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph) in the afternoon.

The biggest is the Carr Fire in Northern California, which has killed six people, including two firefighters, and prompted the evacuation of 37,000 from their homes.

"This is a particularly risky situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".

The global fire teams from Australia and New Zealand will arrive in Redding on Monday, Pimlott said.

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Those figures, along with the fact that large fires are starting earlier in the year, has state officials anxious.

Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott says the California wildfires have grown faster, and burned more land, earlier in the fire season than usual.

Meanwhile, new evacuations were ordered Saturday near twin fires burning in Mendocino and Lake counties.

However, most evacuations were lifted by Saturday in and around Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft continue battling an enormous blaze about 100 miles south of the OR line. Firefighters were having some success keeping flames away from heavily populated areas, and officials began allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods.

He says fire whirls are common, but not at the intensity recorded on July 26.

The National Weather Service issued warnings for "critical fire weather conditions" through Saturday, Aug. 4.

The "firenado" also left behind damage that looked more like the work of a tornado than a wildfire-tiles stripped from roofs, trees uprooted, cars moved, a transmission tower tipped over.

The blaze is now 41 percent contained.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze had blackened almost 206 square miles.

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