Mendocino Complex now second-largest wildfire in California history, Cal Fire says

Firefighters try to control the fire in Carr as it continues to spread

The Mendocino Complex Fire, made up of two separate conflagrations that merged near Ukiah, north of Sacramento, exploded by 25 percent overnight and had blackened almost 400 square miles as of Sunday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The Carr fire, burning about 162 miles north of Sacramento, killed a power company lineman, according to a CBS affiliate.

Both areas remained under a "red flag warning" issued by the National Weather Service for strong winds, low relative humidity and temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), all conditions that can drive the growth of wildfires.

Cal Fire operations chief Charlie Blankenheim said in a video update Monday morning on Facebook that success against the River Fire was due to "a very large aircraft show" on Sunday.

"Fire season is really just beginning", Cal Fire chief Ken Pimlott said.

More residents were ordered to evacuate their homes this weekend as tired firefighters endured high temperatures and gusting winds.

To the southwest of Redding, new evacuations were ordered late Thursday at the Mendocino Complex, where twin fires have ravaged a combined 250 square miles, destroyed 41 residences and threatened 9,200 homes.

"These kinds of frightful situations bring people together, regardless of the lesser kind of ideologies and partisan considerations", Brown told a news conference Saturday.

The Carr Fire has scorched 154,524 acres of land since July 23, when authorities say it was triggered by the "mechanical failure of a vehicle" that caused sparks to fly in tinderbox-dry conditions.

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The Mendocino Complex fires cover an area 71 percent of the size of Los Angeles.

With the River Fire half contained, evacuation orders have been lifted for Lakeport and other communities on Clear Lake's west shore.

The Mendocino is one of 17 major wildfires burning across California that prompted US President Donald Trump on Sunday to declare a "major disaster" in the state, ordering federal funding to be made available to help recovery efforts.

The National Park Service says that parts of Yosemite National Park will remain closed indefinitely because of growing fires in areas near and on the park. They have forced the evacuation of more than 20,000 residents and destroyed more than 100 structures.

Blankenheim said crews face "extreme fire behavior" near Stonyford in Colusa County, with 40 miles of open fire line extending northwest into the Snow Mountain Wilderness.

The blaze burned so furiously on July 26 that it created a "fire whirl". The twirling tower of flame reached speeds of 143 miles per hour, which rivaled some of the most destructive Midwest tornados, National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema said.

The 206-square-mile (533-square-kilometer) Carr Fire 100 miles south of the OR border is 39 percent contained after destroying 1,060 homes and many other structures. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said.

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