Mendocino becomes largest of California's 'killer' wildfires

A DC-10 air tanker drops fire retardant along the crest of a hill to protect the two bulldozers below that were cutting fire lines at the River Fire in Lakeport California

There are 17 major fires burning throughout California.

As of Saturday, the Carr Fire is 39 percent contained, and firefighting reinforcements are coming to California from as far as New Zealand. The Ranch Fire which started along Highway 20 near Potter Valley is at 74,890 acres with 33 percent containment and the River Fire, which started on Old River Road near Hopland, is at 35,278 acres with 50 percent containment.

Nearly 3,500 personnel, alongside 419 fire engines and 15 helicopters, have taken part of the firefighting efforts.

"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-priced loans to cover uninsured property loses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster", the White House said in a written statement.

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The National Weather Service has issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions Friday and Saturday as a series of dry low-pressure systems pass through the region, bringing gusts up to 35 miles per hour (56 kph) in the afternoon.

The fire has killed six people, including two firefighters, and destroyed 1,060 homes and almost 500 other buildings, including businesses, barns and warehouses, officials said. "Tragedies bring people together". The Carr fire, burning about 162 miles north of Sacramento, killed a power company lineman, according to a CBS affiliate.

Forecasters said areas with the highest threat included a massive blaze near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco.

Each earlier slip alone qualified as a "near miss" warning that the century-old mining trail could collapse, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's preliminary report.

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CBN News' Heather Sells is in California covering the wildfires. The latest evacuation orders for Shasta County's Carr Fire, Mendocino County's Complex Fire People in the area have been advised to leave immediately.

"Battling these relentless fires requires a Herculean effort", Brown said in a statement. The fire continues to spread into the Mendocino National Forest and crews are scouting for opportunities ahead of the active fire's edge. 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. In all, they have destroyed hundreds of homes, killed eight people and shut down Yosemite National Park. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

There are 14,000 firefighters from California and other states fighting the blazes.

Dykema said wildfires typically create whirls, but rarely of the strength of the one recorded July 26.

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The report says his death highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

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