LAKEPORT, Calif. – Wildfires tearing through trees and brush, raging up the hills, and the burning of neighborhoods: The place-names change, but the destruction signs of the new normal in California.
On Monday, two fires will be treated as an incident north of San Francisco was the largest forest fire in history, the destruction of 443 square miles (1,148 square kilometers) — almost the size of the city of Los Angeles.
The Mendocino Complex was still and broke the record of last December. The Thomas Fire killed two people, burned 440 square kilometers and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Southern California, before being fully incorporated Jan. 12.
The Mendocino Complex, which is 30 percent contained, is less destructive to property than some of the other fires in the state, because it is usually raging in remote areas. But the officials say that the threat of 11,300 buildings and a number of new evacuations were ordered in the weekend, as the flames spread.
Warmer weather attributed to climate change is drying out the vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread rapidly from the countryside to the city breaks, climate and fire, say the experts. But also the debt of cities and municipalities who are busy with expanding housing in a previously mined areas.
More than 14,000 firefighters are battling more than a dozen big brands in California, Department of Forestry and fire protection spokesman Scott McLean said.
“I can remember a few years ago, when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 that we see now,” he said.
Crews made progress at the weekend against one of the two brands in the Mendocino Complex with the help of water-dropping aircraft, Cal Fire chief of operations Charlie Blankenheim said in a video on Facebook.
But the other is growing after the infection is in the Mendocino National Forest.
Meanwhile, a new fire erupted south of Los Angeles in Orange County on Monday and quickly spread through the chaparral-covered ridges of the Cleveland National Forest. Campsites and holiday homes in Holy Jim Canyon had to be evacuated. The fire sent a huge column of smoke and ash.
Further to the north, the crews gained ground against a deadly blaze that has destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around the Rescue. It was almost halfway contained, Cal Fire said.
The wildfire is approximately 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of San Francisco began more than two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer flat tire. The two firefighters killed and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.
Officials began allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods. But tens of thousands of others were evacuated.
The forest fires in Northern California have created a haze of smoke in the Central Valley, Sacramento County health officials advised the residents to avoid outdoor activities for the whole week.
Another blaze that ignited last week in the Sierra Nevada has been damaged by a historic Northern California resort in the Stanislaus National Forest. Almost a century old, Dardanelle Resort has sustained massive structural damage, although the details are unclear, the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
Follow AP’s wildfire coverage here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires