California: Mendocino Complex Fire Explodes to 28000 Acres

Carr Fire

Carr Fire

The toll of devastation from one of the most brutal fires in California history rose to nearly 1,000 homes destroyed and about 200 more damaged as a sprawling wildfire ignited by a spark from a towed vehicle grew to more than 175 square miles.

Across California, more than 13,000 firefighters are battling 16 major blazes that have burned more than 320,000 acres - more than 500 square miles - and 32,000 residents remain evacuated from their homes, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wednesday at a briefing at the state Office of Emergency Services.

Elsewhere, the Carr Fire had burned more than 880 homes and killed six people in and around Redding.

( AP ) Firefighters try to control a back burn as the Carr fire continues to spread towards the towns of Douglas City and Lewiston near Redding, California. It's kind of like a lid over the fire, which keeps the activity down, which is a good thing. One of the worst blazes is north of San Francisco: the Carr fire.

And California has already spent a quarter of its firefighting budget for the year in the month of July.

"The wind isn't as strong as it was a week ago", Cal Fire's John Clingingsmith said.

"We had this rain at the beginning of the year and all that did was promote the growing of grass and brush", McLean said.

Incident commander Bret Gouvea, who has referred to the fire as a "monster", said more than 10,000 people were allowed to return to their homes Monday and Tuesday.

"When the fires start, guys are pretty much ready to rock and roll". Thousands more, however, remain evacuated because of the blaze ignited July 23 by a spark from a steel wheel rim on a trailer being towed with a flat tire.

Erratic winds and record high temperatures have fueled blazes that blackened almost 410,000 acres in California, the state's highest year-to-date level in a decade. It has scorched 180 square miles (470 square kilometers) and is 35 percent contained.

Gaston said she could not get to her brother's house because, with the fire approaching, sheriff's deputies had blocked the roads and then she herself had to evacuate.

"It was a firestorm when we left", Lister said.

Yosemite National Park planned to reopen its treasured Yosemite Valley to all visitors late Friday as firefighters slowly gained the upper hand on the blaze. This map, which shows the fire's hot spots, not the actual containment lines or fire perimeter, actually has time-stamps showing when the satellite data was gathered.

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