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California’s Second Largest Wildfire Leaves Smoky Haze Across Sacramento

07 August 2018

The raging Mendocino Complex fire has officially become the largest wildfire in California's history, authorities have confirmed.

The Thomas Fire killed two people, burned 440 square miles, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Southern California before being fully contained January 12.

NOAH BERGER via Getty Images Flames leap above a vehicle on High Valley Road as the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, burns near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Sunday. But officials say the twin fires threaten 9,000 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

Two small blazes burning through Northern California have grown at breathtaking speed to form a massive inferno, quickly becoming the largest active wildfire in the state. The fire is entering its third week, with 163,000 acres burned and more than 1,000 homes lost.

The wildfire started two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer's flat tire.

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Fred Greaves / Reuters A DC-10 air tanker drops fire retardant along the crest of a hill to protect the two bulldozers below that were cutting fire lines at the River Fire on Thursday.

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It burned so furiously on July 26 that it created what is called a fire whirl. But tens of thousands of others were still evacuated.

A couple of fast-growing wildfires in northern California expanded to more than two-thirds the size of sprawling Los Angeles as more residents were ordered to evacuate their homes and tired firefighters endured high temperatures and gusting winds.

On Sunday, 140 fire managers and specialists from Australia and New Zealand underwent special training and were issued safety gear at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise before being deployed to fires in the Pacific Northwest and California. The almost century-old Dardanelle Resort has sustained massive structural damage, though the details were unclear, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

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Nor is having enough water a problem in battling California wildfires in general.

At the same time, neither fire agencies nor firefighters have complained about a lack of water.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for parts of Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If all goes well, we'll have the fire tied in at the top of Cow Mountain by the end of shift (Sunday) or early Monday.

More than 14,000 firefighters and hundreds of U.S. army personnel are trying to contain the more than a dozen major fires burning throughout the state.

"The Ranch Fire continues to grow in the north and south eastern directions, threatening communities in the fires path", said Cal Fire.

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According to Daniel Ramey, the PIO for Peardale Chicago Park Fire, "The team has seen a large amount of wildlife in the area - elks, coyotes, rabbits, deer, eagles etc". In 2017, there were 3,440 fires across 219,369 acres during the period.

California’s Second Largest Wildfire Leaves Smoky Haze Across Sacramento