The Mendocino Complex grew to span 1,176 square kilometres by Tuesday morning, with barely a third of it contained since two wildfires merged at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.
It is the largest of eight major fires that are out of control across California, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a "major disaster" in the state.
The size of the fire has surpassed that of last year's Thomas Fire, which burned 1,140 square kilometres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and destroyed more than 1,000 structures.
The Mendocino Complex has burned 75 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. Fire officials had hoped to extinguish the fire by mid-August, but on Tuesday pushed that date to early September.
Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. But they also blame cities and towns that are expanding housing into previously undeveloped areas.
The Army is sending 200 soldiers to combat the wildfires raging across the Western US
Temperatures could reach 43 C in Northern California over the next few days, with gusty winds fanning the flames of the complex, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.
The wildfire about 225 miles (360 kilometres) north of San Francisco started more than two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailers flat tire. It killed two firefighters and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.
The 3,900 personnel battling the Mendocino Complex on Monday were focusing on keeping flames from breaking through fire lines on a ridge above the foothill communities of Nice, Lucerne, Glen Haven and Clearlake Oaks, said Tricia Austin, a spokesperson for Cal Fire.
Elsewhere in California, evacuations were ordered for cabins in Cleveland National Forest's canyons in Orange County on Monday afternoon after a blaze broke out to quickly engulf 2.83 square kilometres.
Next Up In Energy & Environment This graphic explains why 2 degrees of global warming will be way worse than 1.5 The EPAs bizarre justification for rolling back fuel efficiency standards Weve been talking about a national grid for years. It might be time to do it. The West is on fire … again Why the Carr Fire in Northern California is so severe Trump is freezing Obamas fuel economy standards. Heres what that could do. Most Read Betsy DeVoss summer home deserves a special place in McMansion Hell Kate Wagner dissects the shingle-style Michigan summer home of the education secretary. Trumps Republican Party, explained in one photo A monument to what political scientists call “negative partisanship,” one of the most important phenomena of our political time. Apple banned Alex Joness Infowars. Then the dominoes started to fall. Apples Infowars ban altered an industry overnight — and dealt a significant blow to fake news. Why Saudi Arabia is waging diplomatic war on … Canada Saudi Arabia has kicked out Canadas ambassador over tweets about human rights activist Samar Badawi. Every August 7 primary election you should know about, briefly explained Democrats efforts to spur a “blue wave” will be put to the test, again. vox-mark Vox Sentences The news, but shorter, delivered straight to your inbox.
The Carr Fire, which has torched 675 square kilometres in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento since breaking out on July 23, was 47 per cent contained.
The Carr Fire has been blamed for seven deaths, including a 21-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company lineman, Jay Ayeta. The company said Sunday he was killed in a vehicle crash as he worked with crews in dangerous terrain.
"California wildfires are being magnified and made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized," Trump wrote on Twitter, without providing supporting evidence.
A Cal Fire spokesperson declined to comment on Trump's claims, but said crews did not lack water to fight the flames.
Environmental activists and some politicians say the intensity of the state's wildfire season could be linked in part to climate change.
It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.
Fire authorities insisted on Monday that they have ample water supplies to fight California’s devastating wildfires, contrary to U.S. President Donald Trump‘s tweets that unspecified water diversions to the Pacific were making matters worse.
Officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, stressed that wild-land blazes are battled primarily by crews hacking away at dry brush with hand tools and bulldozers, not with water.
“Yes, we have plenty of water,” CalFire Chief Scott McLean said by telephone, adding that the two largest blazes in California this week – the Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire – were each ringed by at least three major reservoirs.
Its entirely possible for states, cities and the United States as a whole to divert all rainwater to be used for water treatment, but that would require a massive rebuilding of American infrastructure. Trump has yet to pass his transportation bill he promised during the 2016 campaign.
READ MORE: Trump declares California wildfires a major disaster, orders funds for recovery effort
He said the tweets, after Trump on Sunday approved a federal disaster declaration requested by Governor Jerry Brown for the fires, sparked a barrage of media queries to CalFire.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “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. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”
The 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion reportedly specializes in construction and demolition, skills that the unit has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Fox News. The soldiers will be “working side by side with civilian firefighters,” as well as experienced firefighting personnel from the wildlands fire management agencies, US Army North explained to BI, adding that the soldiers will be involved in activities like clearing brush or constructing fire breaks.
Then on Monday he tweeted, “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”
Neither McLean nor Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the Idaho-based fire agency, would address the tweets directly, but Gardetto said by telephone, “Most wildfire suppression efforts involve firefighters and boots on the ground.”
Water, used in protecting homes and other structures and for dumping on flames from airplane tankers and helicopters, is critical but secondary to the larger manual efforts of clearing unburned vegetation to remove it as potential fuel around a fire’s perimeter.
Peter Gleick, one of California’s leading experts on Western water resources as president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute, said that Trump appeared to be seizing on the wildfires to side with farmers on a separate debate over how to allocate California’s finite water resources among farmers, cities, fish and wildlife.
“More than 127 wildfires are burning on about 1.6 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska,” according to a statement from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho also announcing the deployment of US soldiers to combat the wildfires out west.
“There’s nothing that California water policy has done that makes these fires worse or more difficult to fight,” Gleick said. Trump’s references to diverting water to the oceans was “completely backwards,” he said.
“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.
Trump’s suggestion that environmental laws were somehow compounding wildfire woes drew derision on Twitter.
Critics said his tweets ignored the greater wildfire frequency and severity experienced in California and other Western states from extreme drought and sustained periods of hot, dry weather, in keeping with the forecasts of climate scientists.
Fire officials have said that 95 percent of all wildfires are caused by humans, from camp fires left unattended to careless smoking, to sparks from vehicles and improperly maintained power lines.