Mendocino Complex Fire Now Fourth Largest in California History

A firefighting helicopter drops water onto a hot spot at the River Fire near Lakeport California

North California wildfires expand to more than two-thirds the size of LA

The Pacific Gas and Electric employee was fatally injured in a vehicle-related accident Saturday on the western edge of the Carr Fire in Shasta County, utility spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said.

The trio were arrested on suspicion of interfering with firefighters and not having authorization to be in an evacuation zone. No injuries or deaths among firefighters or civilians have been reported. But clearing trees is more commonly associated with commercial logging practices, not fire management.

At least three states have mobilized National Guard troops to help, and five military aircraft are assisting. Firefighters aren't running out of water as they battle the blazes, experts said.

A sprawling blaze in Northern California grew on Monday into the second-largest wildfire ever recorded in the state, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency, highlighting the ferociousness of this year's fire season.

Two blazes collectively called the Mendocino Complex burnt in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties, about 145 km north of San Francisco.

The Nevada County Strike Team, composed of engines from Ophir Hill Fire, Peardale Chicago Park Fire, Higgins Fire, Nevada County Consolidated Fire and Nevada City Fire is still assigned to the Ranch Fire on the Mendocino Complex. The two fires, which have threatened more than 9,000 structures, have not merged, but officials are counting them as one.

The worldwide fire teams were to arrive in Redding, California, on Monday, said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott.

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Further north in the Redding area, the Carr Fire, which is now 45 percent contained, has charred more than 163,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

The Carr Fire, which incinerated 1,067 homes, started with sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer's flat tire, Department of Agriculture and Fire Prevention officials said.

Trump initiated the spat on Sunday when he tweeted that the fires "are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws", which cause water to be "diverted into the Pacific Ocean", and prevent trees from being cleared. Brown has also sought a presidential disaster declaration for the areas around the Mendocino Complex fires.

The Mendocino Complex is now considered the sixth-largest wildfire in California history.

On Sunday, 140 fire managers and specialists from Australia and New Zealand underwent special training and were issued safety gear at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise before being deployed to fires in the Pacific Northwest and California.

"Fire season is really just beginning", Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said, explaining that such intense conditions used to come around the peak of the season. The state's fire agency, CalFire, said it has not had problems accessing water. But the number of acres burned this year at 292,455 is about 50 percent higher than the 219,369 acres burnt last year and more than double the 118,811-acre average for the last 5 years.

The Carr Fire has claimed six other lives since it began on July 23, including those of a firefighter and a bulldozer operator. It was 38 percent contained.

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