Thousands of firefighters struggle to contain giant blazes in California

Posted August 03, 2018

The Ranch Fire - the larger of the two - is 15 percent contained while the Ranch Fire is 50 percent.

At a state Office of Emergency Services press conference today, Brown said firefighters would have to adapt to increasingly severe wildfires in the years to come because of climate change.

In another sign the crisis in Redding was ebbing, law enforcement officials said the last four people reported as missing among a list of 20 whose names were published on Tuesday were located safe and sound on Wednesday. More than 12,000 firefighters and even 3,000 prisons inmates are locked in a pitched battle against the blazes.

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The fire has killed six people, including two firefighters, and destroyed 1,060 homes and almost 500 other buildings, including businesses, barns and warehouses, officials said.

Tens of thousands of people remain under evacuation orders. Yosemite National Park's treasured Yosemite Valley, which has been closed since July 25, was among several areas of the park that won't reopen until at least Sunday because of heavy smoke from the Ferguson Fire.

Having scorched more than 121,000 acres (48,967 hectares), an area larger than New Orleans, the blaze was the biggest of 16 major wildfires burning throughout California and the most formidable of more than 90 across 13 Western states from Texas to Alaska.

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Two fires in Mendocino County, the River Fire, which is 38 percent contained, and the Ranch Fire, 15 percent contained, have consumed almost 100,000 acres.

- more than a quarter of what it has pegged for fires, state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Mike Mohler said Wednesday.

"We've started off with a bang, " Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

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Just when firefighters were making progress on a massive fire burning in Mendocino and Lake counties, Mother Nature was preparing to deliver another haymaker with forecasters predicting a triple threat of high winds, soaring temperatures and falling humidity.