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California scorched by raging wildfires the size of LA

AFP  |  San Francisco 

Tens of thousands of firefighters were today battling relentless flames ripping across California, as the death toll from a series of infernos that first erupted last month hit 11.

The raging fire comprised of twin blazes in the western state's north ravaged more than 290,000 acres (117,359 hectares) -- approximately the size of sprawling -- in less than two weeks, becoming California's largest ever recorded since bookkeeping began a century ago.

Some 14,000 firefighers including reinforcements from as far as and have arrived to combat the firestorm devouring broad swaths of the state.

The River Fire of the is 78 percent contained, having burned 48,920 acres -- but its partner blaze the Ranch Fire has grown to 241,772 acres and is just 20 percent contained.

Limited access, heavy fuel loads, low fuel and high temperatures were all impeding firefighters' efforts to rein in the conflagration, the state's CalFire authority said.

Helicopters and airplanes, including two massive DC-10s and a 747 jumbo jet, were supporting firefighters by dousing the flames with water. Two people have died in the inferno, taking to 11 the number of people killed by major fires that are becoming something of a constant in the fire-prone state.

The Carr Fire to the north has meanwhile engulfed 167,113 acres since igniting July 23 and killing seven people thus far.

Firefighters have managed to get it 47 percent contained, challenged by varying wind patterns and rough terrain that includes steep drainages.

Another major fire, Ferguson, has left two dead and forced the closure of part of the Yosemite national park, and is currently only 38 percent contained. Several thousand people have been evacuated, although some have been given permission in recent days to return to their homes.

The is the second fire to break records in in as many years, following the in December 2017 that destroyed 281,893 acres.

"This is part of a trend -- a new normal -- that we got to deal with," the state's told journalists of the "horrific" wildfires.

In the state's south near hundreds of personnel were deploying to tackle the fast-moving Holy Fire in the

After igniting in a relatively small area on Monday afternoon it mushroomed to 4,000 acres and was not contained at all as of Tuesday morning, according to the

Two other national forests in the counties of and Ventura were on high alert because of searing temperatures, strong winds and parched vegetation.

"If fire ignition occurs, conditions are favorable for very rapid fire spread," the warned in a statement, saying "extreme fire behavior" could "threaten life and property."

On Monday the said it would send 200 soliders to assist firefighters in fending off the flames, many of which have encroached on federal lands.

In a series of eyebrow-raising tweets meanwhile suggested environmental laws -- rather than climate change -- was to blame for the spike in wildfires devastating parts of the west.

"wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized," he said Monday. "It is being diverted into the Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!" The Republican infuriated much of the international community last year when he withdrew from the climate change pact, intended to combat global warming by reducing emissions.

His missive drew exasperated sighs from many including authorities at CalFire: "We have plenty of water to fight these wildfires," Daniel Berlant, the agency's assistant deputy director, told

"Let's be clear: It's our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, August 08 2018. 00:20 IST