With a new round of weather warnings in place for the weekend, firefighters continued their battle to prevent the deadly wildfires burning in Northern California from growing, officials said Saturday.
The Mendocino Complex — two blazes that together rank as the largest wildfire in California history — surged by more than 12,000 acres overnight to 328,226 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze was 67 percent contained.
Firefighters worked overnight to keep the fire within the Mendocino National Forest. The blaze already has scarred parts of Colusa, Mendocino and Lake counties, Cal Fire officials reported. The northern part of the Ranch Fire, the larger of the two blazes, continued to grow as firefighters were unable to gain access to the flames due to the difficult terrain.
The Ranch Fire has consumed 276,306 acres — 17,000 acres more than by Friday — and was 58 percent contained.
Firefighters patrolled the River Fire, the second of the blazes, throughout the night. It remained steady at 48,920 acres and was 92 percent contained. Cal Fire lifted the mandatory evacuation order for all areas south of Mendocino National Forest in Lake County on Friday evening. The forest itself remains closed.
Some evacuations orders were also lifted in Colusa County.
While a large part of Northern California was under a red flag warning through Saturday night given the heat and low humidity, temperatures were expected to drop at least a few degrees to the mid-80s or low 90s Sunday and into the early part of the week, although wind gusts could offset that for firefighters. Temperatures were expected to inch back up closer to triple digits by Wednesday or Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
In Shasta County, the Carr Fire has burned 190,873 acres and was 57 percent contained, Cal Fire said. Firefighters worked to mop up hot spots and build stronger containment lines around the blaze as conditions threatened to trigger spot fires.
More than 1,077 homes, 22 commercial buildings and 500 other structures have been destroyed in the fire.
On Friday, a vehicle procession honored the latest fatality in the Carr Fire. Andrew Brake, a 40-year-old Cal Fire heavy equipment mechanic from Chico (Butte County), was killed Thursday in a single-car crash on Highway 99 on his way to the blaze, officials said.
Others who have died in the Carr Fire include a Redding firefighter, a contract bulldozer driver, a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. lineman, a woman and her two great-grandchildren, and a man found in his home.
Meanwhile, crews managed to keep the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite Valley from spreading. The blaze has burned 95,544 acres and was 82 percent contained by Saturday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
In Southern California, a wildfire continued to burn in Riverside and Orange counties. The Holy Fire grew to 22,158 acres and was 36 percent contained by Saturday, according to Cleveland National Forest officials.
Some evacuations in Lake Elsinore (Riverside County) were lifted as crews worked to prevent the blaze from burning more homes.
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