Burning money: The facts on California's soaring cost to fight wildfires

California's summer siege of wildfires – LA Times

In early July, firefighters were battling two large blazes in Northern California and forecasters were warning of record heat and gusty winds that could stir up more trouble.

Western Lake County had its advisory upgraded to a mandatory evacuation for the area west of Lucerne at Bartlett Springs Road and Highway 20, south of the fire, east of the fire, north of Clear Lake including the communities of Blue Lakes, Upper Lake, Nice, Lakeport, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Scotts Valley and Saratoga Springs, according to a Mendocino National Forest incident update.

The 11-day-old Carr Fire, which has scorched almost 127,000 acres (54,000 hectares) in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento, remains the largest and most fearsome of 18 significant wildfires burning across California and more than 100 nationwide. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes, killed eight people and shut down Yosemite National Park.

As these fires grow in frequency and severity, the state's cost to fight them is also increasing - dramatically.

Both areas remain under a "red flag warning" due to the dry, hot weather and windy conditions. The forecast included extremely low humidity levels that leave vegetation ready to burn.

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Combined containment is down on the Mendocino Complex Fire as of Friday, from 39% to 30%.

The blaze burned so furiously on July 26 that it created a "fire whirl". Two firefighters have died there.

A fire whirl - similar to a tornado - that occurred in the Carr Fire near Redding on July 26 had maximum winds in excess of 143 miles per hour, according to an initial analysis by the National Weather Service and Calfire.

Its size overtook the deadly Carr Fire, about 100 miles (160 km) to the northeast, which is among 17 major blazes burning in tinder-dry forests and woodland peppered with dead trees from the state's 2011-2017 drought. Fire officials said another 8,000 homes and other buildings were threatened - down from about 12,000 homes initially threatened as firefighters made progress in some areas even as the blaze expanded in others. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact. Two recent examples are the Carr Fire that's destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and near Redding - it's already the sixth-most destructive in state history - and the Ferguson Fire that forced the closure of part of Yosemite National Park in late July, at the height of tourist season. The report called for better "risk assessment" among firefighters.

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