Rising winds forecast for Northern California wildfire zones
The National Weather Service issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions into Saturday, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region would bring afternoon gusts up to 35 mph (56 kph).
Forecasters said the highest threat areas included the so-called Carr Fire near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco. The forecast included extremely low humidity levels that leave vegetation ready to burn.
The 206-square-mile (533-square-kilometer) Carr Fire 100 miles south of the Oregon border was 39 percent contained after destroying 1,060 homes and many other structures.
Two firefighters and four other people have been killed since the blaze, which ignited July 23, raced with extraordinary fury toward the region’s largest city. More than 1,300 homes remained threatened.
To the southwest, new evacuations were ordered late Thursday at the Mendocino Complex, where the so-called Ranch and River fires have ravaged a combined 240 square miles (621 square kilometers), destroyed 41 residences and threatened 9,200 homes.
Both fires were active overnight, including a rapid expansion eastward by the Ranch Fire. Combined containment was 30 percent early Friday.
In the Sierra Nevada, firefighters achieved 41 percent containment of a 115-square-mile (298-square-kilometer) forest fire that has shut down Yosemite Valley and other adjacent portions of Yosemite National Park at what is normally the height of summer tourism.
Two firefighters have been killed there since a fire erupted just west of Yosemite in the Sierra National Forest.