Largest wildfire in California history to burn through August

Largest wildfire in California history to burn through August
California fire officials contradict Trumps claim about water shortage amid wildfire
California's biggest wildfire on record is expected to burn for the rest of the month, fire officials say, as hot and windy conditions challenged thousands of fire crews battling eight major blazes that are out of control.

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.

The Mendocino Complex, which is 30 per cent contained, has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state because it is mostly raging in remote areas. But officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

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.

Another blaze that ignited last week in the Sierra Nevada has damaged a historic Northern California resort in the Stanislaus National Forest. The nearly century-old Dardanelle Resort has sustained massive structural damage, though the details were unclear, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

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.

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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.

We do manage all of our rivers in California, and all the water is allocated many times over. So Im not sure what he was recommending, LeRoy Westerling, a professor at the University of California Merced studying wildfires, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldnt compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change.

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.

For a state like California thats facing increasing heat and more frequent weather whiplash between extreme rain and drought, the real bad environmental laws worsening the situation are actually Trumps attempts to roll back policies — like Californias Clean Air Act waiver — that would help mitigate climate change and the threat of more wildfires.

A Cal Fire spokesperson declined to comment on Trump's claims, but said crews did not lack water to fight the flames.

For wildland firefighters, the tools of the trade are Pulaskis, rakes, shovels, and flamethrowers that burn clearings ahead of towering infernos. Instead of fire engines, they use bulldozers. Since these firefighters arent usually using pump trucks and fire hoses, they arent limited by water. When they need to snuff out an area, they often do it by air.

Environmental activists and some politicians say the intensity of the state's wildfire season could be linked in part to climate change.

His efforts have largely failed to solve the problem, which his Republican constituents here blame on environmentalists and Democrats in Sacramento, Californias capital, who they say are more interested in saving the smelt from extinction than serving the regions farmers with enough water, an issue that President Trump took up during his campaign.

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.

Houses also burn, but by Trump and Zinkes logic, houses shouldnt be built to avoid house fires.

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.”

In many cases, the state National Guard units are already assisting state and federal agencies working tirelessly to put out the devastating wildfires. The US Army soldiers being sent to lend support are expected to be deployed for at least 30 days. The deployment could be cut short if necessary or extended, as long as doing so does not interfere with higher priority Department of Defense missions.

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.

The Army unit will be sent out as early as this weekend after a couple of days of training. The soldiers will be organized into teams of 20 members and deployed to combat fires in an unspecified area. The deployment location will be determined based on which area is in greatest need of assistance, a US Army North spokeswoman told Business Insider.

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.