Mendocino Complex Fire at over 110,000 acres

Lamar Ellis
August 4, 2018

Thousands more mountain residents were evacuated from the path of California's biggest wildfire on Friday (Aug 3) as tired firefighters battled gusting winds driving one of the state's worst fire seasons in a decade.

It may take years before scientists come to a consensus on what to exactly call this vortex - a fire whirl, as named by the National Weather Service, or a fire tornado. But given its strength and how it was formed, some are now calling it a "fire tornado".

Whirls are created when hot air rises and twists tightly, he said.

The "firenado" also left behind damage that looked more like the work of a tornado than a wildfire-tiles stripped from roofs, trees uprooted, cars moved, a transmission tower tipped over.

New evacuations advisories and orders were issued overnight for parts of Lake and Colusa counties threatened by the growing Mendocino Complex fires.

The combined fires have prompted about 15,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Varney became the first of four California firefighters to die this year in the Carr and Ferguson fires.

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In Sierra Nevada, firefighters achieved 41 per cent containment of a 115-square-mile forest fire that has shut down Yosemite Valley and other adjacent portions of Yosemite National Park at what is normally the height of summer tourism.

The fire had reached into remote areas of the country's third-oldest national park.

However, some days-old evacuations were lifted Friday in an area near Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft have been battling an enormous blaze about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the OR line. Workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.

"We are very appreciative of the Australian and New Zealand firefighters for their availability to assist us with our current fire situation", said Dan Smith, the chair of the U.S.'s National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group.

On Friday morning it was revealed that the bulldozer operator who was killed last month almost slipped off a steep mountain trail three times before his vehicle finally rolled into a ravine and fatally crushed him.

A Department of Forestry and Fire Protection preliminary report said each earlier slip alone qualified as a "near miss" warning that the century-old mining trail could collapse.

Officials Wednesday reported 10 homes have burned in the two fires but loss assessments still are being tallied.

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