Twin Northern California fires force thousands to flee homes

Bulldozer operators and their machines build containment lines while battling the River fire in Lakeport California

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.

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.

With the peak of the fire season yet to come, it puts California on track for its most destructive fire year in over a decade, in terms of area burned, said Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean.

Dykema said the whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from home.

- A mandatory evacuation order has been issued Saturday for areas in Lake County north of State Route 20, east and south of the Lake-Mendocino County line and west of the Lake-Glenn County line, emergency officials said. "New fires will grow rapidly out of control, in some cases people may not be able to evacuate safely in time should a fire approach", the weather service said in its bulletin for the Mendocino area north of San Francisco.

The Carr Fire in northern California has burned more than 130,000 acres in a two-week span, killing six people, displacing 35,000, and destroying more than 1,500 buildings. "The sparks that shot out July 23 from that minor incident, California fire officials said, ignited what is now the sixth-most destructive wildfire in state history".

In the city of Redding, repopulation notices have been given to residents but for some there is nothing left but the charred remains of homes.

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He says fire whirls are common, but not at the intensity recorded on July 26. "But I would say things will get much tighter in the next five years, as the business cycle turns negative and as the fires continue", he said. A total of 450,000 acres have burned, majority being consumed by the Carr Fire and the Ranch and River Fires in Northern California.

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.

A 100-square mile fire near Yosemite National Park prompted evacuation orders on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) for the community of Wawona inside the park, which has fewer than 200 residents.

Workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.

A new report says the first firefighter, a California bulldozer operator, almost slipped off a steep mountain trail three times before his vehicle finally rolled into a ravine and fatally crushed him. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

Varney was a 10-year veteran.

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