Published: Fri, August 03, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

New Western Fire in Mendocino County near Highway 101 50% contained

New Western Fire in Mendocino County near Highway 101 50% contained

Officials said Wednesday that the Carr Fire was the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history.

The latest fire to erupt Wednesday in the wildfire-stricken county burned 45 acres off of Highway 101 south of Hopland, officials said.

A fire weather watch has been issued for Thursday through Saturday with winds expected to increase this evening from the north to northwest with gusts up to 35 miles per hour along ridges, which may lead to critical fire weather conditions, officials say.

Two people have been killed in the fire, but no houses have been damaged or destroyed, fire officials said - although about 2,800 structures are threatened.

Some of the 40,000 residents who were forced to flee as the Carr Fire approached say they did not get any notification ahead of time, according to Sam Harnett, a reporter with member station KQED in San Francisco.

"Unstable conditions, shifting winds, steep terrain, and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters", a state fire update warned Wednesday evening (Thursday NZT), noting that 55kmh wind gusts were expected on ridge tops that could whip up the flames.

In a marked shift from last weekend, when numerous fires were out of control and as little as five per cent contained, crews battling the key fire fronts are now reporting containment as high as 35 per cent, and in some cases, 50 per cent containment.

However, authorities who had feared there might be more casualties reported Wednesday that all those who had been reported missing had been located.

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Brown said that only a month into the current budget year California has already spent $125 million, a quarter of its fire budget. "They had just been released from the (Mendocino Complex) and were heading to their hotel when they were dispatched to the Vichy Fire, and another Strike Team engine pulled up after them".

California governor Jerry Brown said the wildfire season was the "new normal" for the state.

Southeast of Redding, a blaze moved deeper into the Mendocino National Forest, "an area with some hunting cabins and some private property but no towns", Lake County Sheriff Lt. Corey Paulich said.

A firefighter runs while trying to save a home in Lakeport on Tuesday.

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.

Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 11:46 p.m. PDT July 31, 2018.

Meanwhile, firefighters were engaged in a pitched battle to contain at least 19 major wildfires that have claimed at least six lives and charred hundreds of square miles in recent weeks.

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