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'Erratic' winds, dry conditions fuel deadly California fires


AFP Redding (US)
Around 12,000 firefighters battled today to contain wildfires in California that have killed six -- but authorities warned "erratic" winds and dry conditions have caused the flames to grow and spread.
"Very hot and dry conditions will continue over the West coast states through Sunday. Conditions around the Carr wildfire near Redding, California will continue to be conducive to rapid wildfire growth and spread," the National Weather Service said this morning.
Firefighters in Shasta County, in northern California, where the Carr Fire began on July 23, warned on Twitter that "erratic winds and hot, dry conditions on the #CarrFire resulted in greater growth and increased fire behavior last night."

Two firefighters were killed fighting the blaze and three people -- a 70-year-old woman and her two great-grandchildren aged five and four -- perished when their mobile home was surrounded by flames.
According to the most recent available reports, the Carr Fire -- only 5 per cent contained -- has scorched 89,194 acres, destroyed 517 buildings and damaged 135 more.
By the end of Saturday, 38,000 people had been evacuated in Shasta County.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the county, as well as in the counties of Lake, Napa and Mendocino last evening.
He asked for federal assistance, including military aircraft, shelter supplies and water for evacuated residents in Shasta County, where he said the Carr Fire had grown "uncontrollably." US President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration to make federal aid available to county authorities.
Another northern California fire, the Mendocino Complex -- made up of two fires -- has also burned more than 24,000 acres in total since Friday. Having rapidly spread, it was only 10 per cent contained this morning.
Elsewhere, firefighters reported that the Ferguson fire, near Yosemite National Park, had grown only by around 1,980 acres overnight -- bringing the total damage to 53,646 acres since July 13 -- and was 30 per cent contained. A firefighter died battling that blaze, with seven people also injured.
Meanwhile, the Cranston Fire forced the evacuation of over 7,000 people, although some were able to return to their homes this morning. The fire -- caused by humans -- has destroyed 13,130 acres and is 29 per cent contained.
According to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), 17 large-scale fires were burning Sunday morning, with 12,000 firefighters deployed across the state.

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First Published: Jul 30 2018 | 12:20 AM IST

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