With gusting winds, triple digit temperatures and nearly zero chance of rain in Northern California this week, scorching weather poses a persistent threat to firefighters battling out-of-control blazes on parched land, officials said.
It was unclear what caused the blaze, but the fire was one of more than a dozen burning amid record-setting heat waves in the drought-stricken state, according to Cal Fire. The Mendocino Complex Fire is comprised of two neighboring fires that have scorched through thousands of acres each day and destroyed 75 homes.
Cal Fire deputy chief Scott McLean described the wildfires as "extremely fast, extremely aggressive [and] extremely dangerous". ZACA FIRE (Santa Barbara County), July 2007 Acres burned: Structures destroyed: Deaths: 7.
NOAH BERGER via Getty Images Flames leap above a vehicle on High Valley Road as the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burns near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Sunday.
NORTHCOM's National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, has estimated that more than 127 wildfires are burning on about 1.6 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska.
"If fire ignition occurs, conditions are favorable for very rapid fire spread", the National Weather Service warned in a statement, saying "extreme fire behavior" could "threaten life and property". The current spate of wildfires happens to be within range of large Northern California lakes and the state's biggest river, McLean said. The fire surrounds Clear Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in the state, a vital habitat for fish and other wildfire and a spot for water sports enthusiasts.
"California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized", Trump said.
Water, used in protecting homes and other structures and for dumping on flames from airplane tankers and helicopters, is critical but secondary to the larger manual efforts of clearing unburned vegetation to remove it as potential fuel around a fire's perimeter. He also claimed water is "foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean".
But that's "a totally separate issue" from fire management, said William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California at Berkeley.
The 14th Engineer Battalion soldiers were chosen for their engineering expertise and are likely to aid civilian firefighters in operations including digging trenches and building fire breaks, officials said. Steele's district includes the towns that still have fire above them, and in some places, creeping down the ridge.
More than 3,900 firefighters are working to contain the Mendocino Complex Fire, with more than 60 fire crews and 441 fire engines, according to Cal Fire. Jerry Brown (D) said Saturday in a news conference about the fires, adding that the disasters offer a chance for people to overcome ideological divisions.
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