US ‘Best chance’ to end largest wildfire in California history within reach

03:40  22 august  2018
03:40  22 august  2018 Source:   sfgate.com

Environmentalists partially to blame for CA's wildfires, Interior chief says

  Environmentalists partially to blame for CA's wildfires, Interior chief says With more than a dozen wildfires actively burning across California, the Trump Administration on Sunday charged that environmentalists are partially to blame. A plane drops fire retardant behind homes along McVicker Canyon Park Road, on Aug. 8, in Lake Elsinore as the Holy fire burned near homes.

The fire , the largest recorded in California history , was at 357,612 acres and 67 percent contained. Still, mandatory evacuations remained in effect Tuesday for parts of Lake, Mendocino, Colusa and Glenn counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Twin wildfires in California , known as the Mendocino Complex Fire , have grown to become the largest active wildfire in state history , officials said on Monday. The fires have spread rapidly in recent days to burn 283,800 acres of land - an area almost the size of Los Angeles.

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The Mendocino Complex fire continued to grow overnight, but fire officials said Tuesday that significant progress was made establishing containment lines due to high humidity and lower temperatures.

The Ranch Fire — in Lake, Mendocino, Colusa and Glenn counties — has now burned 355,612 acres and was 67 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Fire crews were able to establish 9 miles of fire line overnight, bringing the total number to 533.2 miles, said Derek Tisinger, a Cal Fire spokesman.

“If we have a good day, it could continue to leave a positive outcome as far as trying to get this thing contained by Sept. 1,” he said, adding that favorable weather conditions were in store for the area over the next few days.

Tisinger estimated that a remaining 10 miles of fire line need to be established in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the blaze to gain control of the largest wildfire in state history.

“This is our best chance to stop this fire, to get ahead of it and remove some of the fuel,” Tisinger said.

The flames, which continued to threaten more than 1,000 structures, were nearly 4 feet high, making it too dangerous for crews to go in for a direct attack.

“We have crews in the area, but they can only work the edges,” Tisinger said. “Nobody can get out in front of this thing, because it could kill you.”

Meanwhile, the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties stayed stagnant at 229,651 acres by Tuesday morning and was 90 percent contained.

The blaze has destroyed 1,079 structures, but as of Tuesday no structures were threatened by the flames, Cal Fire said.

After weeks of evacuations, police departments have cracked down on looters, officials said.

On Aug. 15, a man and woman were arrested for allegedly burglarizing a vehicle belonging to a Redding firefighter who had gone home to rest after battling the Carr Fire, according to the Chico Police Department.

Brian Martinson, 33, and Jennifer Estes, 40, both of Palo Cedro (Shasta County), were taken into custody after allegedly stealing the firefighter’s backpack, which had $5,000 worth of personal property, including his laptop and family photos.

There was no date determined on when the blaze would be fully contained.

Elsewhere in California, the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County remained 100 percent contained at 96,901 acres. Park officials announced Tuesday that Wawona Road (Highway 41) will reopen between Wawona and Yosemite Valley on Friday.

Glacier Point Road remained closed due to fire operations.

Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sravani@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SarRavani

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California lawmakers outlined a proposal to help PG&E Corp. and other utilities cope with billions of dollars of potential damages from deadly wildfires last year. The plan, part of a broad package addressing the growing threat of wildfires such as forest management practices, doesn’t go as far as PG&E wanted to alleviate its liabilities, but it could help ease Wall Street’s concerns regarding the company’s liquidity. It includes a measure that would allow utilities to float bonds to cover fire costs.A firefighter work during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2017.

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