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Northern California Wildfire Updates: Crews Make Progress In Mendocino Complex, Ferguson Fires

Noah Berger / AP Photo

An air tanker drops retardant while fighting to stop the Ferguson Fire from reaching homes in the Darrah community of unincorporated Mariposa Count, Calif., Wednesday, July 25, 2018.

Noah Berger / AP Photo

Updated Thursday, August 9, 4:32 p.m.

Some 14,000 firefighters from as far away as Florida and even New Zealand are struggling to curb about a dozen Northern California fires in the midst of a sweltering summer that has seen wind-whipped flames carve their way through national forest land and rural areas, threaten urban areas and incinerate neighborhoods.

Critical fire weather conditions over the next few days have prompted a Red Flag Warning for much of Northern California. Strong winds and low humidity have firefighters on high alert.

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.

Some of the largest fires have erupted just within the past few weeks as the state has seen record-setting temperatures — and the historically worst months of wildfire season are still to come.

Here are the latest fire conditions and evacuation information on the Mendocino Complex, Ferguson, Carr and Donnell fires burning in Northern California:

Mendocino Complex Fires

For information on evacuations and fire conditions for the two fires making up the Mendocino Complex, head here for the Ranch Fire and here for the River Fire.

Firefighters are making progress against the Mendocino Complex Fire although thousands of homes and buildings remain under threat.

State fire officials Wednesday night say the fire has destroyed 119 homes and 304,402 acres of brush and timber. The fire is the largest wildfire in California history, according to Cal Fire.

The Complex is 51 percent contained, and authorities have lifted mandatory evacuation orders for most communities near the resort of Clear Lake.

About 19,000 people were displaced during the peak of the blaze that started on July 27 and continues to burn in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa Counties

Lake County Lt. Corey Paulich says about 1,500 people, mainly in his county's Spring Valley area, remain under evacuation orders.

He says fire officials are confident with the containment lines they have managed to cut around half the fire.

The blaze initially spread quickly because of what officials said was a perfect combination of weather, rugged topography and abundant brush and timber turned to tinder by years of drought.

In becoming the biggest fire in California history, the Mendocino Complex fire broke a record set just eight months ago by the Thomas Fire. That Southern California blaze in December killed two people, burned 281,893 acres and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings.

Ferguson Fire

Head here for the latest information on evacuations and fire conditions for the Ferguson Fire.

Containment of the Ferguson Fire burning near Yosemite jumped to 79 percent overnight, according to the Forest Service.

The only areas still under mandatory evacuation due to the fire, which has scorched 95,104 acres so far, are Foresta, Yosemite Valley and Yosemite West.

Parts of Yosemite National Park are still closed indefinitely due to the Ferguson Fire burning near the park, according to the National Park Service. Yosemite Valley, Wawona Road, the Mariposa and Merced groves of giant sequoias, Hetch Hetchy and other areas of the park are among the closed areas. 

The fire has left two dead and 14 injured since it started on July 13.

Carr Fire

Head here for the latest information on evacuations and fire conditions for the Carr Fire.

The Carr Fire near Redding has burned 177,450 acres acres and is 48 percent contained. 

The fire was started two weeks ago by sparks from a steel wheel of a towed-trailer’s flat tire. It has killed two firefighters and five civilians, and has destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Mandatory evacuations are in place throughout Shasta and Trinity counties.

On Thursday morning, a Cal Fire heavy equipment operator assigned to the fire was killed in a traffic accident on Highway 99 in Tehama County.

Donnell Fire

Head here for the latest information on evacuations and fire conditions for the Donnell Fire.

The Donnell Fire burning in the Stanislaus National Forest and Tuolumne County has scorched 21,097 acres and is 6 percent contained.

The fire started the evening of Aug. 1 on the east side of Donnell Lake. It is currently burning mostly in steep and rough terrain along the north bank of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.

The fire has destroyed 55 major and 81 minor structures, and threatens another 220 structures. The inversion layer lifted  yesterday, causing increased fire activity.

Mandatory evacuations are in place along Highway 108 from Eagle Meadow Road to Kennedy Meadows, along all of Eagle Meadow Road and in the Clark Fork Road area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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