The so-called Holy Fire, in southern California, grew dramatically and rapidly on Monday, with two hikers needing to be airlifted to safety.
Since being ignited on 27 July they have devastated 283,000 acres (443.4 square miles). As McLean of Cal Fire concluded: "It is extremely fast, extremely aggressive, extremely dangerous.Look how big it got, just in a matter of days.Look how fast this Mendocino Complex went up in ranking".
McLean said firefighters are using the direct approach to prevent the fires from reaching urban areas along Clear Lake while retreating in national forests "and letting the fire come to us". There they'll wait for the blaze to come to them while lighting "backfires" to clear vegetation between the fire line and the approaching blaze. About three-quarters of the perimeter has been quiet recently, but it is still moving aggressively north, coming to within less than two miles of merging with the Ranch Fire to the north. But officials say it threatens 11,300 buildings and some new evacuations were ordered over the weekend as the flames spread.
Cal Fire officials said water-dropping aircraft made some progress against one of the fires in the complex over the weekend, while the other has grown substantially, spreading into the Mendocino National Forest.
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Three specialist firefighters from South Australia's Country Fire Service are being deployed to Canada where authorities are battling more than 450 fires in the British Colombia district.
Late Monday, the wildfires known as the Mendocino Complex, became the state's largest wildfire in history.
The wildfires across the West have been fueled this year by drought conditions and unusual three-digit temperatures. Burning through nearly 160,000 acres, it was 47% contained by late Monday. That can range from anything from a spark from a vehicle that catches fire in dry brush nearby, to, in extreme cases, arson.
What are firefighters doing to stop the Mendocino Complex Fire?
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Resources assigned to the fire include 432 fire engines, 89 water tenders, 15 helicopters, 57 hand crews, and 80 dozers, for a total of 3,781 personnel.
"Over half of the most deadly and destructive and large fires in California have occurred over the past 10 years", Jonathan Cox, the Northern California battalion chief for Cal Fire, told SFGate.
Gerst's ESA biography shows he once worked as a volunteer firefighter.
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But that's "a totally separate issue" from fire management, said William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California at Berkeley.