California fire explodes in size over weekend, is now 4th largest in state history
No one has been injured in the Mendocino Complex Fire, which consists of two fires — the Ranch Fire and the River Fire — burning around Clear Lake, in Northern California.
Combined, they form the biggest blaze that California firefighters are currently battling. Altogether, the Mendocino Complex Fire has burned 266,982 acres — growing about 70% over the weekend. As of Sunday night, it was 33% contained.
Exhausted firefighters across the state are trying to contain 17 major fires that are burning in hot, dry and windy conditions.
Trump blames California’s ‘bad environmental laws’
Farther north in Shasta County, the devastating Carr Fire claimed its seventh victim Saturday when a Pacific Gas & Electric worker died while working with a crew to restore power, utility spokesman J.D. Guidi said.
Over the weekend, the White House approved a disaster declaration for Shasta County, allowing affected residents from the Carr Fire to apply for federal disaster assistance such as temporary housing, home repairs and other programs.
At the same time, President Donald Trump blamed the state’s environmental laws for the wildfires.
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” he tweeted Sunday. “It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”
It wasn’t immediately clear what California laws Trump was referring to.
“Battling these relentless fires requires a Herculean effort,” California Gov. Jerry Brown had written in his request to Trump for a presidential major disaster declaration.
More than 14,000 firefighters are battling the wildfires across California. It’s gotten to the point that fire crews from Australia and New Zealand are coming to the state to help.
The international fire teams will arrive in Redding, California, on Monday, said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott.
Parts of Redding were damaged by the Carr Fire, which burned has more than 160,000 acres. The fire was 43% contained as of late Sunday, according to Cal Fire.
The Carr Fire, now in its third week, is the sixth most destructive in the state’s history, having destroyed more than 1,600 structures, according to Cal Fire.
Parts of Yosemite National Park closed indefinitely
Another major fire also burning in Northern California, the Ferguson Fire, extended into its third week.
This fire has killed two people and injured 11 others. And it prompted the indefinite closure of some of the most popular parts of Yosemite National Park, officials announced on Sunday.
“Over the past 48 hours, fire has impacted all of the roads used to access Yosemite Valley, burning dead and downed trees that can become very explosive and fall without warning,” according to the National Park Service.
Yosemite Valley is home to some of the most famous destinations of the park.
“There are also significant terrain hazards for firefighters. These hazards, along with extreme fire behavior and frequent weather changes, have made this an extremely difficult fire fight,” according to the NPS statement.
The Ferguson Fire started on July 13. Of the 89,633 acres burned, firefighters have contained about 38%, according to authorities.