The Latest: Control of massive California blaze expected in September
LAKEPORT, Calif. (AP) – The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):
7:15 a.m. California fire officials say they expect to gain control of the biggest blaze in state history in September. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday the blaze burning near Clear Lake in Northern California has destroyed 116 homes since it started on July 27. It is threatening another 10,000. The agency also says two firefighters were injured but provided no details. Experts say California is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into the forests. The massive Mendocino Complex fire of twin blazes burning side-by-side expanded even more overnight to nearly 470 square miles (1,217 square kilometers). More than 4,000 firefighters battling the blaze have contained 47 percent of it.
12:00 a.m. California could be facing the toughest wildfire season ever as some 18 gigantic blazes ravage the state – and the historically worst months are still to come. Some 14,000 firefighters are battling fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and claimed six lives thanks to wind-whipped flames that have caused an explosive spread through vegetation left tinder-dry by years of drought. Mark Hartwig of the California Fire Chiefs Association says fires are burning more intensely and quickly than before. California’s largest recorded blaze – the side-by-side fires dubbed the Mendocino Complex – needed just 11 days to blacken an area nearly the size of Los Angeles. A deadly fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes in the Redding area of Northern California is less than 50 percent contained.