Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Trump Approves Disaster Declaration for California as Wildfires Claim Utility Worker's Life

Trump Approves Disaster Declaration for California as Wildfires Claim Utility Worker's Life

MENDOCINO Co., 8/6/18 - The monster that is the Mendocino Complex continues to grow, having climbed the ranks of the largest fires in recorded California history, incredibly rapidly.

Further north in the state, the deadly Carr Fire has scorched more than 164,400 acres of land since July 23, and killed another seven people along the way. "It's pretty doggone hot and dry, and it's going to stay that way".

The Mendocino Complex is now considered the sixth-largest wildfire in California history.

"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.

The blaze has spread to 94,331 acres and firefighters have contained 39 percent, according to authorities.

"We're experiencing the same thing every day, which is our afternoon winds and high winds in the area", said Tricia Austin, a spokeswoman for the Mendocino Complex Fire.

The wildfires are "extremely fast, extremely aggressive, extremely unsafe", said Scott McLean, a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters from Australia and New Zealand are scheduled to arrive in Northern California today to help battle two huge blazes that were about half contained over the weekend.

The Ferguson Fire has entered its third week and has prompted the indefinite closure of popular parts of Yosemite National Park, officials announced on Sunday.

Firefighters normally expect to count on wildfires "laying down" at night as the temperature sinks, allowing night shift personnel to "go direct" in constructing fire lines very close to the edge of the fires. Officials say the flames threaten more than 9,000 structures.

Officials said the River Fire, which is burning northeast of Ukiah, had limited movement overnight.

But with the additional aircraft freed from the River Fire, Blankenheim said "that area is starting to look up, and we're starting to feel like we're getting ahead of the game".

Hundreds of colleagues, family and friends attended a memorial service Saturday in Fresno for National Forest Service Capt. Brian Hughes.

The current spate of wildfires happens to be within range of large Northern California lakes and the state's biggest river, McLean said. The Complex has now grown to 273,664 acres with 30% containment, and CalFire has confirmed the destruction of 75 residences and 68 other structures - though this number should continue to climb as CalFire teams enter burned out areas to make a careful accounting of the situation.

Meanwhile, new evacuations were ordered Saturday near twin fires burning in Mendocino and Lake counties. Jerry Brown called on President Trump to help the state fight and recover from the wildfires.

Keith Gilless is a UC Berkeley professor of forest economics and chairman of the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"The water that reaches the ocean is what's left after we've diverted most of the water away for cities and farms, and what little is left is barely enough for California's aquatic ecosystems and the fisheries", he said.

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