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

‘Speed dating’ all-candidates meeting in Surrey zeroes in on homelessness and housing

Candidates mingle with residents at tables with various topics, in 10-minute intervals

Partial lane closures for Port Mann Tuesday, Wednesday nights

Drivers can expect delays during maintenance work: Mainroad

Surrey man drops one-kilo brick of cocaine as cops arrest him outside his house

Amanpreet Singh Gill serving two years less a day for possessing cocaine for purpose of trafficking

North Delta library featuring local artist in new exhibit

Internationally-renowned artist Jarnail Singh will have his art on display until Nov. 22

South Surrey pet blessing event to be held Sunday

All animals welcome to be blessed by Peninsula United Church

VIDEO: More cameras, police coming after Marissa Shen killed in Burnaby park

B.C. privacy watchdog worries that the cameras are a ‘slow creep’ to a surveillance state

Arborist killed by fallen tree at Maple Ridge Golf Course

Was working near the 9th tee box of the golf course.

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

Abbotsford raccoon dies from injuries suffered in a trap

Wildlife protection group offering $1,000 reward for information about incident

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Most Read