Redding, California VA Clinic Stays Open Despite Nearby Wildfires

Flames from the River Fire part of the Mendocino Complex Fires are seen on a ridge in this undated image

The blaze, the seventh most destructive in California history, roared suddenly into Redding and adjacent communities after being whipped by gale-force winds into a fire storm that jumped the Sacramento River.

The colossal blaze - the most formidable of 94 wildfires burning across 13 western states - is now ranked as the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

Four people were missing in the fire zone as 16 people listed as missing turned up safe, a Redding police official said. Both fires, which are around 30 miles apart, are 5 percent contained.

A third blaze erupted Tuesday afternoon near the rural town of Covelo in Mendocino County.

Allen said firefighters were ready as the summer fire season gains momentum across the state. That fire was only about 40 miles north of twin blazes in Mendocino and Lake counties that took off earlier this week and together pose a threat to some 12,000 homes.

Just a month into the budget year, the state has already spent one quarter of its annual fire budget, at least $130 million. "A lack of available suppression and overhead personnel will also slow the firefighting efforts", said officials on the Cal Fire website in a Sunday morning update.

"We've started off with a bang, " Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

In Lake County, evacuation orders were in effect for the 4,700-resident town of Lakeport along with some smaller communities and a section of Mendocino National Forest.

Six people have died in the fires, including a firefighter, a grandmother and her two young grandchildren. Still, many thousands more remained evacuated. He bought his three-bedroom house a year ago using a loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Carr Fire has burned through almost 113,000 acres and is now considered 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

"But you can't stop doing what you have to do, and you can't stop facing what you have to face", she said.

Gaston said she couldn't get to her brother's house because, with the fire approaching, sheriff's deputies had blocked the roads and then she herself had to evacuate.

Near Yosemite, the Ferguson Fire had burned 90 square miles and was 33 percent contained.

Yosemite National Park planned to reopen its treasured Yosemite Valley to all visitors late Friday as firefighters slowly gained the upper hand on the blaze. The closure began July 25.

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