Mendocino Complex Fire explodes to 5th largest blaze in California history


As the Carr Fire has exploded to more than 154,000 acres, residents and firefighters across the western United States are bracing for an uptick in heat and continuing dry weather.

A weak storm tracking in from the Pacific Ocean kicked up gusty winds across parts of California, Nevada and Wyoming on Saturday.

These winds contributed to the spreading of the Mendocino Complex fire, which resulted in mandatory evacuations for portions of Colusa County, California on Saturday evening.

West wind Aug 5

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 moments notice.

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.

The central Rockies from western Wyoming to Utah and western Colorado will face continued gusty winds and a heightened fire danger to end the weekend.

While winds are expected to lessen across most of California and Nevada on Sunday, conditions will otherwise remain hot and dry, and therefore favorable for rapidly spreading fires.

Unlike on Saturday, no afternoon thunderstorms are expected on Sunday, limiting the threat of new or spreading wildfires as a result of lightning and locally gusty winds.

Fire aftermath Aug 4

A resident, in yellow, wishing not to be identified, is comforted after seeing her fire-ravaged home for the first time Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

As the winds calm, attention will turn toward heat set to build back across the West next week.

The heat this weekend will not be as intense as what the region endured at the end of July.

More typical early August heat is expected in the valley communities of Northern California and northern Nevada this weekend with highs in the 90s. This includes Redding, the city in which sections were destroyed by the Carr Fire.

this week fire Aug 5

By midweek, widespread highs in the 100s are expected from Sacramento and Redding, California, to Reno, Nevada; Medford and Pendleton, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho.

Highs in the 90s are once again anticipated for Portland, Oregon, as Seattle flirts with the 90-degree mark this week.

The heat is expected to hold into at least late this week, further feeding 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,” Duffey said.

On Thursday, July 26, the Carr Fire produced a fire whirl that caused damage equal to that of an EF 3 tornado with winds in excess of 143 mph.

Latest on the ongoing destructive blazes

Saturday’s winds threatened to reverse the work done by firefighters to contain the Carr Fire.

The blaze has destroyed over 1,000 residential structures with more than 1,200 structures still threatened. Six people have died in the fire, including two firefighters.

static ongoing fires 8/5

The Carr Fire is currently the sixth-most destructive wildfire, in terms of structures burned, in California’s history and the 13th deadliest on record in state.

Farther south, the Mendocino Complex Fire is comprised of the Ranch and River fires. Together, these blazes have charred more than 250,000 acres near Ukiah, California, and are threatening 15,300 structures.

Yosemite National Park announced that Yosemite Valley is among the areas of the park that will remain closed through Sunday due to continued unhealthy smoke impacts and ongoing firefighting operations as crews work to extinguish the Ferguson Fire.

That blaze has burned nearly 90,000 acres and is 35 percent contained. Two firefighters have died while battling the fire.

Anyone planning to visit Grand Canyon National Park will also face side effects of local wildfire activity.

The Obi Fire, which started on July 21 and now encompasses over 2,500 acres, has spread toward the park in recent days. This has lead to planned closures of several roads and hiking trails as firefighters work to contain the blaze this week.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay aware of fire-related advisories as well as the risk for any potential thunderstorms.

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