Thousands Evacuate due to Mendocino Fires

Fire officials say a massive blaze in Northern California has torched 1,018 homes in and around the city of Redding.

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. It's kind of like a lid over the fire, which keeps the activity down, which is a good thing.

The area was only about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of where twin fires in Mendocino and Lake counties have burned an area almost three times the size of San Francisco, destroyed seven homes and threatened 12,000 more.

"Much of the fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain with little to no access roads", said Jay Kurth, with the California Interagency Incident Management Team.

Allen, president of Sacramento-based Cal Fire Local 2881, has battled fires like these for 30 years.

Evacuation orders remained in effect Tuesday for the town of Lakeport, the county seat, although orders for some smaller communities were lifted.

The fire has claimed six lives, including two firefighters, since gale-force winds whipped the blaze into a flaming cyclone that jumped a river and roared with little warning into Redding and adjacent communities in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region on the night of July 26. Since then, it has destroyed more than 880 homes. The fire was nearly 35 percent contained, and thousands of residents were allowed to return to their neighborhoods. A relative identified the latest known victim as Daniel Bush, 62. Redding Police on Tuesday asked for help from the public locating four people who are still missing.

Although the Ferguson Fire - which is 33 percent contained and has burned about 58,000 acres - has so far not spread to Yosemite, it is keeping parts of the popular park closed through Sunday, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"But you can't stop doing what you have to do, and you can't stop facing what you have to face", she said.

But not everyone heeded the orders to evacuate.

"It was a firestorm when we left", Lister said. "I'm very upset about it".

The east-west route in the park - Big Oak Flat Road, or California 120 West, to Crane Flat and Tioga Road, or California 120 East - remains open.

It was the longest closure at Yosemite since 1997, when floods closed the park for over two months.


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