Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Active-Duty Army Engineers Being Sent to Fight California Wildfires

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Leonard Rios | 07 August, 2018, 22:12

The Mendocino Complex Fire has charred more than 283,000 acres, making it the largest blaze in California's history.

"We broke the record", Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean says of the massive Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California. Total containment for the complex has improved slightly to 34 percent, Cal Fire said.

Barely a third of it is under control, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

There have been no deaths associated with the Mendocino Complex Fire, which actually began as two separate fires - the River Fire and Ranch Fire - before merging into one incident. The Mendocino Complex Fire is comprised of two neighboring fires that have scorched through thousands of acres each day and destroyed 75 homes.

Brown's office announced Saturday that the White House has approved a request for a presidential major disaster declaration that would help fire victims in Shasta County, which has been ravaged by the Carr Fire. It was listed as the sixth most-destructive in state history, having destroyed more than 1,600 structures, according to Cal Fire.

"That doesn't happen. That just doesn't happen".

Trump initiated the spat on Sunday when he tweeted that the fires "are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws", which cause water to be "diverted into the Pacific Ocean", and prevent trees from being cleared. "Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!"

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Where are the fires burning?

Burning through nearly 160,000 acres, it was 47% contained by late Monday.

"Battling these relentless fires requires a Herculean effort", Brown said.

In addition, 180 fire management specialists from Australia and New Zealand have now arrived in the U.S., most assigned to work on fire fronts in California and the Pacific Northwest.

"Honestly, the way the state manages its water, that really has no bearing on the explosive growth of the fires", said Glen MacDonald, a geography professor at the University of California Los Angeles who studies wildfires.

Mr McLean said: "I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon and Washington and never the 14,000 we see now". That fire, which is now 43% contained, has destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned over 160,000 acres. As Trump alluded to in his tweet, experts have urged state and federal forestry officials to move quickly in clearing swathes of dead forests due to their added fire danger. "That's what we're trying to prevent", Austin said.

The Australian crews were first sent to Boise, Idaho, for training at the National Interagency Fire Centre; and joined United States and Canadian firefighters in the field on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, administration officials declined to offer any clarity on Trump's series of tweets claiming environmental laws and water regulations in California are hampering the state's ability to fight the wildfires.

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