Firefighters Gain Some Ground on Devastating California Wildfires

The Carr Fire burns along Highway 299 in Shasta, Calif., on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

(CN) – Wildfires continue to burn across California, with the deadliest of the nearly 20 blazes growing to 100,000 acres and claiming at least six lives.

The Carr Fire has blackened approximately 100,000 acres in Shasta County in Northern California and was 20 percent contained as of Monday morning. The figure represents major progress as the fire was only 5 percent contained on Sunday.

At least six people have been killed in the blaze, including two firefighters, a woman and her two great-grandchildren aged 4 and 5.

On Monday, Cal Fire lifted evacuation orders in select neighborhoods in Redding – a a positive sign for a community that has been surrounded by fire and inundated by enormous volumes of smoke for days.

“The portions of the fire within the city of Redding have containment lines,” said Lisa Wikolak, a Cal Fire spokesperson. “But now the fire is moving away from residential areas into heavily forested and steep terrain. So we’ll have a different type of fight.”

Along with the six deaths, the Carr Fire has leveled approximately 720 residential structures with hundreds more under threat.

Fire officials say the high winds that caused the more dramatic images of the blaze have largely abated, making the fire more manageable if still menacing and potentially destructive.

While the Carr Fire and the images of “firenadoes” swirling on the outskirts of Redding have dominated news coverage, fires in Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

An historic schoolhouse burns as the Carr Fire tears through Shasta, Calif., Thursday, July 26, 2018. Fueled by high temperatures, wind and low humidity, the blaze destroyed multiple homes and at least one historic building. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Brown has already requested federal assistance in managing the firefight and aftermath in Shasta County.

The Ranch Fire, burning out of control off Highway 20 near the Mendocino County town of Ukiah is only 5 percent contained. The fire has already charred 35,000 acres, destroying six homes while threatening about 1,000 others.

The fire is part of the Mendocino Complex, which also includes the River Fire that has burned about 20,000 acres and is also 5 percent contained.

Near Yosemite National Park, the Ferguson Fire continues to rage. The blaze claimed the life of another firefighter over the weekend, the second since it began on the western flank of the park in Mariposa County.

Cpt. Brian Hughes, 33, an Arrowhead Hotshot, was killed after being struck by a falling tree near the fire line.

The Ferguson Fire is currently listed at 30 percent containment, with about 56,000 acres charred.

But firefighters made progress over the weekend, the plan is to reopen Yosemite on Friday morning as long as the fire behavior remains moderate.

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