Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Deadly California blaze spawned destructive fire tornado

Deadly California blaze spawned destructive fire tornado

New evacuation orders were issued Thursday night for areas of the border between Lake and Colusa counties and the boundary of Mendocino National Forest.

To the southwest, new evacuations were ordered late Thursday at the Mendocino Complex, where the so-called Ranch and River fires have ravaged a combined 240 square miles (621 square kilometers), destroyed 41 residences and threatened 9,200 homes.

On the evening of July 26, California's Carr fire, one of the most destructive fires in the state's history, was burning in Redding, when conditions aligned to create a massive whirl of smoke and fire. Some areas on the fire's southeastern flank were reopened to residents.

Over 4,300 personnel assigned to the blaze have carved containment lines around 37 percent of the perimeter of the blaze. Two others were killed in another wildfire in the state. Six people, including two firefighters, have died and the fire has destroyed 1060 homes and almost 500 other buildings, including barns and warehouses, making it the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history, state fire officials said.

Gov. Jerry Brown repeated predictions from fire officials that California can expect a future of devastating fires, in part because of climate change.

However, some days-old evacuations were lifted Friday in an area near Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft have been battling an huge blaze about 100 miles south of the OR line. Officials say firefighters hope to have them both contained in a 1.5 weeks.

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A 100-square-mile (259-square-kilometer) fire near Yosemite National Park prompted evacuation orders for the community of Wawona inside the park, which has fewer than 200 residents.

The fire burned slowly for days before winds suddenly whipped it up last week and drove it furiously through brush and timber.

The National Weather service said preliminary reports indicate the Carr fire created a whirlwind that reached 143 miles (230 kilometers) per hour - equivalent to an EF-3 tornado. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said.

There is also a rapidly spreading wildfire in the Mendocino area of California, which has destroyed and damaged more than 50 structures, however this is coming under control more quickly and containment is so far rising.

Firefighters have managed to contain 41 percent of that blaze and authorities are allowing some people who had evacuated to return, Cal Fire said. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

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