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Tuesday, August 7

Mendocino Complex Fire now largest in California state history and still going strong

Monday, August 6, Los Angeles Times:
The massive Mendocino Complex fire jumped across at least four creeks, one major road and a fire line cut by a bulldozer in a single six-mile run this weekend toward Leesville, a tiny unincorporated waystation in Colusa County.
Typically, any one of those breaks could have halted the spread of wildfire. But shifting winds and brittle-dry vegetation sent flames — up to 300 feet high in some areas — leapfrogging in all directions in three Northern California counties and on both sides of scenic Clear Lake, past these man-made and natural obstacles.
The erratic conflagration has chewed through more than 273,000 acres and 68 homes in 10 days, making it the second-largest wildfire on record in California. [...]
Tuesday, August 7, 11:07 AM EDT,  Accuweather:
The Mendocino Complex Fire has charred more than 290,000 acres, making it the largest blaze in California's history in terms of acreage burned.
Firefighters will continue to face local gusty winds and mounting high temperatures this week.
To put this in perspective, the massive blaze is burning an area larger than New York City.
The Mendocino Complex fire is comprised of the Ranch and River fires. A total of 11,300 structures are being threatened, while 143 have been destroyed.
The previous record was set by the Thomas Fire just eight months ago, which scorched 281,893 acres and destroyed over 1,000 buildings.
As AccuWeather predicted, hot and dry weather allowed the Mendocino Complex Fire to spread rapidly this past weekend, which resulted in mandatory evacuations for portions of Colusa County, California, on Saturday evening. Over 20,000 people have now been evacuated from Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties.
Heat and poor relative humidity will continue to plague firefighters battling this complex fire each afternoon and evening into early this week.
Residents who have not been forced to evacuate but living in the vicinity of the fires should closely monitor alerts from government officials and be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
Full containment of the blaze is not expected until early September.
The shifting blazes can further put the lives of firefighters at risk. Smoke may also be spread farther away from the fires than in recent days, creating dangerously poor air quality conditions throughout the western U.S.
As windy conditions become more localized, attention will turn toward dangerous heat set to build back across the West this week.
Early this week, temperatures are expected to soar well into the 90s in Downtown Los Angeles. A high near 85 F is more common this time of year.
The neighboring valleys can anticipate triple-digit heat, while the deserts from Palm Springs, California, to Phoenix, Arizona, will endure highs in the 110s. Temperatures in a few locations along the Colorado River can approach or crack the 120-degree mark.
Temperatures will also climb farther north across the West this week. Tuesday and Wednesday, widespread highs in the 100s are expected from Sacramento and Redding, California, to Reno, Nevada; Medford and Pendleton, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho.
Multiple days of highs in the 90s are once again anticipated for Portland, Oregon, and Seattle this week before cooler air may return by next weekend.
The heat will further feed the ongoing blazes.
Residents and firefighters will once again have to take the necessary precautions to protect against heat exhaustion and stroke.
"Rapidly-rising air caused by the extreme heat helps the fire to grow explosively as the fire will create its own wind, as well as fire vortices (firenadoes) and tree crowning (when the leaves get engulfed by flames), even on otherwise calm days," AccuWeather Meteorologist and volunteer firefighter Evan Duffey said.
 [...]
 
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