FILE - In this Tuesday, July 31, 2018, file photo, a firefighter runs while trying to save a home as a wildfire tears through Lakeport, Calif. The residence eventually burned. Authorities say a rapidly expanding Northern California wildfire burning over an area the size of Los Angeles has become the state’s largest blaze in recorded history. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Largest wildfire in California history still growing

It’s the second year in a row that California has recorded the state’s largest wildfire.

Wildfires tearing through trees and brush, rampaging up hillsides and incinerating neighbourhoods: The place-names change but the devastation is showing signs of becoming the new normal in California.

On Monday, twin fires being treated as one incident north of San Francisco became the largest wildfire in state history, destroying 443 square miles (1,148 square kilometres) — nearly the size of the city of Los Angeles.

The Mendocino Complex was still growing as it broke the record set last December. The Thomas Fire killed two people, burned 440 square miles, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Southern California before being fully contained Jan. 12.

The Mendocino Complex, which is 30 per cent contained, has been less destructive to property than some of the other wildfires in the state because it is mostly raging in remote areas. But officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.

Hotter weather attributed to climate change is drying out vegetation, creating more intense fires that spread quickly from rural areas to city subdivisions, climate and fire experts say. But they also blame cities and towns that are expanding housing into previously undeveloped areas.

More than 14,000 firefighters are battling more than a dozen major blazes throughout California, state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean said.

“I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now,” he said.

Crews made progress over the weekend against one of the two blazes in the Mendocino Complex with help from water-dropping aircraft, Cal Fire operations chief Charlie Blankenheim said in a video on Facebook.

Related: Back to rubble, some ‘lost everything’ in California fire

Related: New fires erupt in Northern California; homes threatened

But the other one is growing after spreading into the Mendocino National Forest.

Meanwhile, a new fire erupted south of Los Angeles in Orange County on Monday and quickly spread through the chaparral-covered ridges of the Cleveland National Forest. Campgrounds and homes in Holy Jim Canyon were ordered evacuated. The fire sent up an enormous pillar of smoke and ash.

Farther north, crews gained ground against a deadly blaze that has destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding. It was nearly halfway contained, Cal Fire said.

The wildfire about 225 miles (360 kilometres) north of San Francisco started more than two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer’s flat tire. It killed two firefighters and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.

Officials began allowing some residents to return to their neighbourhoods. But tens of thousands of others were still evacuated.

The fires in Northern California have created such a haze of smoke in the Central Valley that Sacramento County health officials advised residents to avoid outdoor activities for the entire week.

Another blaze that ignited last week in the Sierra Nevada has damaged a historic Northern California resort in the Stanislaus National Forest. The nearly century-old Dardanelle Resort has sustained massive structural damage, though the details were unclear, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

___

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ponoka man faces 95 theft-related charges

Police recover stolen license plates, mail, tools

Ponoka man facing almost 100 charges in relation to tip from public

Christian Singer, 32, facing dozens and dozens of charges

AFSC received 2,300 hail claims from recent storms

Conditions of many fields starting to fall as excess heat, lack of moisture begin to take a toll

Three dead in head-on collision Monday night

Three people were pronounced dead, while a child was sent to hospital

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Vintage vehicle subject of RCMP search

Two Hills RCMP seek to identify owner of recovered 1940’s vehicle

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Most Read