Crews battling deadly California wildfire slowed by returning winds

California wildfire

"I see there's a few statuaries in the backyard that maybe we can save".

Australia's expertise was sought by USA authorities because of our familiarity with bushfires; in the U.S. media such fires are referred to as "wildfires".

Fire officials say a massive blaze in Northern California that has killed six people and torched more than 1,000 homes grew overnight, fueled by wind. More than 4,100 firefighters are battling the blaze.

Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside near the Springs of Life Church in Casitas Springs, California. The fire has burned more than 162 square miles and destroying more than 1,100 structures, is the most destructive fire in Shasta County history. 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 almost 64,000 acres (258 square kilometres) and is only 39 per cent contained.

Approximately 90 large fires are now being fought in 14 states and nearly 400,000 hectares of ground has been lost.

Strong gusts began kicking up again on Wednesday night across upper ridge lines of the fire's mountainous western flank, where the blaze, sparked by a vehicle malfunction on July 23, was burning largely unchecked. It ranks as the sixth most destructive California wildfire on record.

A second wave of wildland firefighters from Florida reported for duty in California on Wednesday.

Carr Fire California wildfires
California wildfires scorch an area the size of Los Angeles

"We know one of the most stressful things during a disaster is information", Shasta County Fire Chief Mike Hebrard acknowledged.

As of last week, the state has spent a quarter of its annual emergency budget on battling the fires.

A helicopter carries water to drop on an advancing wildfire near Finley, California. The weather isn't helping: low humidity, winds, and dry conditions are challenging firefighting efforts.

The worst of that was the "rotation updraft" reported earlier this week at the Carr fire front in which a vortex of fire and smoke similar to a tornado is formed, pulling up and spraying out burning embers and other fire debris.

"We're in for a really rough ride, and it's going to get expensive, it's going to get unsafe", Brown said.

When asked about the potential for larger fires this summer and fall, Brown said: "I don't have a crystal ball here but I would not be surprised if there were more fires..." "We're being surprised. Every year is teaching the fire authorities new lessons".

Two new fires started in the Ukiah Valley Wednesday, the first on Redemeyer Road near the Vichy Springs Resort around 1:30 p.m.

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