Fire tornado brings destruction to parts of California

Firefighters battle the Ranch Fire near Upper Lake California

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings of extreme fire danger through Saturday night because of low humidity and gusty winds.

"This is a particularly unsafe situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".

Forecasters said the highest threat areas included the so-called Carr Fire near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco. Crews had reached 30 percent containment on the complex. Thousands of people remain evacuated.

Jonathan Cox, the Fire Protection Battalion Chief and Information Officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the state has had wildfires before.

The Mendocino Complex Fire grew to 153,738 acres, about half the size of Los Angeles. The fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and damaged almost 200 others. Insurers paid out more than USD14 billion in insurance claims due to fire damage around the world, nearly entirely due to the October and December events in California.

The fire burned slowly for days before winds suddenly whipped it up last week and drove it furiously through brush and timber.

The Carr Fire spawned a "fire whirl" of flames and winds in excess of 143 miles per hour (230 kph) on July 26 that had the strength of a severe tornado and uprooted trees and toppled power lines, according to a tweet by the National Weather Service.


Another fire located 100 miles to the northeast has already seen six deaths with 41 percent of that blaze reportedly under control. The fire had reached into remote areas of the country's third-oldest national park.

Yosemite Valley residents must leave the valley by noon Friday, National Park Service officials said. Yosemite remains closed to visitors at least through Sunday at this time.

CBS SF Bay Area reports that California's devastating blazes have been fueled by drought, heat and what Calfire calls missed opportunities to clear overgrown forests.

Most of the Ranch fire expansion was from the fire's press deeper into the Mendocino National Forest, a Cal Fire spokesman said Wednesday.

By abstaining from controlled burns year after year, unchecked growth has multiplied, dried out and created a tinderbox.

"It could be tight here at our door step and you know we have a lot of older houses here a lot of wooden structures, it's bad news", said Adams. "We are routinely now seeing fires reach 100,000 acres several times in one month and it's only July, so we have a long way to go in this fire season, and as we saw past year fire season can go right up through December". Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons.

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