Cal Fire: Mendocino Complex fires gain 44,000 acres Friday

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Thousands of people remain evacuated although residents of Kelseyville, Finley and the Big Valley Rancheria were allowed home Tuesday night while the areas remain under an advisory evacuation order for people to be ready to leave if fire conditions change. - Two firefighters were killed fighting the blaze and three people, a 70 year old woman and her two great-grandchildren age four and five, perished when their Redding home was rapidly swallowed up by flames. 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.

The blaze in the Redding area, 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of San Francisco, is the largest of 18 wildfires burning throughout California.

They included a bulldozer operator whose vehicle almost slipped off a mountain trail three times before it rolled into a ravine and crushed him at the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park, a Cal Fire report said. A Red Flag Warning is in effect in Lake County from 11 a.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday due to gusty winds and low humidity in fire weather zones.

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

The National Weather service said preliminary reports indicate the Carr fire created a whirlwind that reached 143 miles (230 kilometers) per hour - equivalent to an EF-3 tornado. The fire burning near Redding has grown to 206 square miles (533 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 1,060 homes.

Jonathan Cox, the Fire Protection Battalion Chief and Information Officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the state has had wildfires before. As of today, it has consumed 44,793 acres and is 50 percent contained.

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In total, 14 states are now reporting large fires.

Cal Fire officials said the so-called Carr Fire, which killed six people and incinerated 1,067 homes, started two weeks ago with sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer's flat tire.

The latest update on the Carr Fire The Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties has burned 141,825 acres (222 square miles) and is 41 percent contained. The northern third of the park remains open.

In the Sierra Nevada, firefighters achieved 41 percent containment of a 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.

His assistant had gone to get a new hydraulic hose. Two firefighters have died there.

Varney was a 10-year veteran.

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