Firefighters make progress in quelling California’s largest wildfire

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Brutal weather threatens California wildfire battle


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Firefighters battling the largest recorded wildfire in California’s history made progress in extinguishing the flames, even as the blaze grew overnight, the state fire agency said on Thursday.

A satellite image shows the River fire at the Mendocino Complex wildfire in California, U.S., August 6, 2018. Picture taken on August 6, 2018. Satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company/Handout via REUTERS

More than 4,000 firefighters in northern California are confronting two conflagrations that covered more than 304,400 acres (123,000 hectares) on Thursday. So far, two firefighters have been injured and 119 homes destroyed.

Although the total size of the blaze grew by about 2,000 acres (810 hectares) overnight, firefighters were able to contain 51 percent of it, up from 46 percent the night before, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said on Thursday.

Separately, about 100 miles northeast, near Redding, 4,700 crews were fighting the 176,000-acre Carr Fire, which has been blamed for seven deaths, including two firefighters, and the destruction of 1,077 homes, Cal Fire said.

The Carr Fire was 48 percent contained on Thursday. Firefighters have struggled against it in steep, inaccessible terrain, Cal Fire said.

Winds gusting up to 35 miles (56 km) an hour and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) are forecast from Thursday afternoon to Saturday in northern California, the National Weather Service said in a Red Flag warning.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the service said.

Nine other major fires are burning in California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Together, the wildfires have displaced tens of thousands of people.

To the south, in the Cleveland National Forest area, the 9,600-acre Holy Fire is 5 percent contained, the Cleveland National Forest said on Twitter on Thursday.

Officials from the Cleveland National Forest did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. They said on Wednesday the blaze had destroyed 12 structures.

A 51-year-old man accused of setting the fire was arrested and booked on two counts of felony arson, one felony count of threat to terrorize and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, the Cleveland National Forest said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The fire has displaced 20,000 people, CNN reported.

Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Makini Brice in Washington, editing by Larry King and Susan Thomas

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