Twin California wildfires are largest in state's history

FILE An inmate firefighter pauses during a firing operation as the Carr fire continues to burn in Redding California on 27 July 2018

The Mendocino Complex became the largest wildfire in Californian history on Monday as it raged at the southern tip of the Mendocino National Forest where crews battled to keep flames from descending into foothill communities. Officials have confirmed that six people, including two firefighters and a woman and her two great-grandchildren, have died.

Six other people, including two firefighters, have been killed by the Carr Fire, which has grown into the state's seventh-most destructive fire in California history.

While winds were diminishing Sunday, dry conditions persisted, said Erica Bain, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire, the state's fire agency.

A total of almost 3,900 people were fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire, including crews from Arizona, Washington and Alaska.

NORTHCOM's National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, has estimated that more than 127 wildfires are burning on about 1.6 million acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska.

The Ranch Fire was just 22 percent contained and the River Fire was 50 percent contained.

NOAH BERGER via Getty Images The Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, crests a ridge as Battalion Chief Matt Sully directs firefighting operations on High Valley Rd. near Clearlake Oaks, California, on Sunday.

Firefighters from Australia and New Zealand are scheduled to arrive in Northern California today to help battle two huge blazes that were about half contained over the weekend.

The Ferguson Fire started on July 13.

The SAFD hopes its crew will help in the fight, adding to the more than 4,700 fire personnel who are now battling the Carr Fire. Another 11,300 structures remain threatened, according to Cal Fire.

"It's the embers, not the fire itself, that destroy most homes", said Steve Conboy, a construction expert whose company develops fire-resistant chemicals to apply to wood.

A 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that climate change was responsible for more than half of the documented increases in fuel aridity in western forests and had doubled the amount of land burned since 1984.

The group in California includes 10 task force leaders, four structure protection specialists, six safety officers, four helicopter managers, two heavy equipment bosses, 15 division supervisors, 10 crew bosses and two liaison officers, Bilbao said.

"There's some challenges that firefighters are facing near the fire and in the area of the fire".

Also, evacuation warnings in areas of Mendocino and Lake counties have been lifted.

The amount of work on this fire is truly tremendous and expensive, with California rapidly running through the money budgeted for the summer fire season.

SA CFS assistant chief officer Daniel Austin said the service was pleased to help an worldwide partner in a time of crisis. "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!" - tweet Sunday.

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.

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