President Donald Trump approved a "major disaster" declaration yesterday and ordered federal assistance for state, tribal, and local efforts to fight fires in California's Shasta County. Two firefighters and four residents, including two children, were also killed.
The Ranch Fire is the larger of the two fires, having consumed more than 225,000 acres so far. Dry, hot winds fueled both blazes, which have collectively charred almost 400 square miles of brush and timber.
"We broke the record", Scott McLean, a deputy chief with Cal Fire, told the newspaper. It was 38 percent contained.
The strike team has been prepping structures ahead of the fast-moving fire, making homes more defensible and increasing the chances of saving the residences. Bone-dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and afternoon winds fueled the fire as it rapidly spread tens of thousands of more acres with each day since it first sparked.
"What seems like we should be in the peak of fire season, historically, is really now the kind of conditions we're seeing really at the beginning", Pimlott said at a news conference. "Tragedies bring people together".
"California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized".
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The president's comment comes after he said Sunday that too much water from the northern part of the state is being wasted by flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
The second portion of Trump's tweet, that California "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!", is also confusing. Find up-to-date information on evacuations on the Cal Fire incident information page here. Forestry experts say thinning trees is a well-established practice that can reduce the severity of fires.
The Ferguson Fire started on July 13.
Of the 20 monster fires now on the list, 16 have occurred since 1999.
"The Ranch Fire continues to grow in the north and south eastern directions, threatening communities in the fires path", said Cal Fire. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed nine people - including two firefighters assisting in a wildfire near Yosemite National Park.
The Mendocino Complex Fire takes the top spot on the list of largest fires in state history from the Thomas Fire, which scorched Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in Southern California just last December.
As a Reason Foundation study noted, the U.S. Forest Service, which is tasked with managing public wildland, once had success in minimizing widespread fires in the early 20th century.