An animal scrambles while flames consume structures as the River Fire burns in Lakeport, Calif., Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Wildfires scorching homes, land – and California’s budget

More than 13,000 firefighters are battling fires with the help of crews from as far away as Florida.

Just a month into the budget year, the state has already spent more than one-quarter of its annual fire budget, at least $125 million, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Mohler said Wednesday.

Following years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat, immense tracts of forests, chaparral and grasslands have become tinder that allows even a small spark to explode into a devouring blaze, authorities said.

“We’re being surprised. Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a news conference. “We’re in uncharted territory.”

More than 13,000 firefighters are battling fires with the help of crews from as far away as Florida but Brown repeated predictions from fire officials that California can expect a future of devastating fires, in part because of the changing climate.

“People are doing everything they can, but nature is very powerful and we’re not on the side of nature,” Brown said.

Related: California wildfires claim more lives; crews make progress

Related: New fires erupt in Northern California; homes threatened

The largest blaze burned in the Redding area, in Shasta County north of Sacramento. Six people, including two firefighters, have died and the fire has destroyed 1,058 homes and nearly 500 other buildings, including barns and warehouses, making it the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history, state fire officials said.

Tens of thousands of people remain under evacuation orders.

However, authorities who had feared there might be more casualties reported Wednesday that all those who had been reported missing had been located.

The fire, which is nearly twice the size of Sacramento, was only 35 per cent contained after more than a week.

“Unstable conditions, shifting winds, steep terrain, and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters,” a state fire update warned Wednesday evening, noting that 35-mph wind gusts were expected on ridge tops that could whip up the flames.

Meanwhile, at least three new fires erupted Wednesday in the Sierra Nevada region, including a blaze in Placer County that had consumed 1 1/2 square miles (1,000 acres or 4 square kilometres) of land.

North and east of San Francisco, two wildfires that began Tuesday near the communities of Covelo and Yuba City continued to burn through grass, brush and timberlands. The fire near Covelo prompted evacuation orders for about 60 homes in the farming and ranching area on the edge of the Mendocino National Forest.

Twin fires also burned in Mendocino and Lake counties. They burned 14 homes and threatened 12,000 more.

A 100-square mile fire near Yosemite National Park prompted evacuation orders Wednesday for the community of Wawona inside the park, which has fewer than 200 residents. Yosemite Valley and other areas of the park have been closed to tourists since July 25 because of heavy smoke from the fire, which has burned nearly 64,000 acres (258 square kilometres) and is only 39 per cent contained.

___

Har reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco also contributed to this report.

___

Janie Har And Brian Skoloff, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Homeless campers of Namegans Nation head to Oak Bay

Roughly 30 members of roving tent city settle at Cattle Point in Uplands Wednesday

UPDATE: Pat Bay Highway traffic moving again after motorcyclist rear-ended

Three vehicle collision stalled traffic in southbound lane Wednesday shortly before 4 p.m.

B.C. moves ahead with speculation tax despite mayors calling for changes

Oak Bay mayor says he was hoping for a different outcome

Legalization at the legislature: Victoria celebrates with free cannabis

Longtime cannabis activist Dana Larsen hands out free joints, seeds, plants

Homeless campers near Saanich municipal hall to move today

Tenters plan to move within Saanich, push bylaws

Watch: Saanich responds to mock emergency for ammonia Leak

Hazmat suits, emergency centre respond to mock ammonia leak

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

VIDEO: Courtenay marks legalization by passing out free joints

Leaf Compassion celebrates new marijuana law in Courtenay

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Preliminary inquiry for Saanich resident facing numerous charges in Comox Valley shooting

A 27-year-old Saanich resident had his preliminary hearing in Courtenay Wednesday as… Continue reading

Jusu adds hemp extract to the menu in Greater Victoria

Food and beverage product to be enhanced with hemp extract

Most Read