Thousands more mountain residents were evacuated from the path of California's biggest wildfire on Friday as tired firefighters battled gusting winds driving one of the state's worst fire seasons in a decade.
Twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather continued to grow Saturday in Northern California, destroying 55 homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods.
They included a bulldozer operator whose vehicle almost slipped off a mountain trail three times before it rolled into a ravine and crushed him at the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park, a Cal Fire report said.
That fire continues to burn about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the OR border as firefighters there and throughout Northern California brace for worsening conditions this weekend.
"The fire is still very active on top of Cow Mountain", he said, explaining that while dozer lines held on the west side of the mountain, they did not hold on the east side and the fire moved into Scotts Valley.
The blaze in Mendocino County, about 90 miles (145 km) north of San Francisco, had spread to cover a total of 201,471 acres (81,500 hectares) by early Saturday, after increasing more than 25 percent in size from Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said. Crews had reached 30 percent containment on the complex.
A firefighter walks around a swimming pool sprayed by phos-chek fire retardant after an air tanker made a pass while fighting a wildfire near Lakeport, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.
Wildfires typically create whirls but rarely of the strength of the one recorded July 26, Dykema said. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said.
The blaze has killed two firefighters.
Yosemite Valley residents must leave the valley by noon Friday, National Park Service officials said.
In 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.
His assistant had gone to get a new hydraulic hose.
The insurance and reinsurance industry loss from the Carr wildfire in Shasta County, California, is anticipated to at least approach and possibly surpass $1 billion, as the destruction continues with now more than 1,550 structures completely destroyed and another 258 damaged by the fire. The report called for better "risk assessment" among firefighters.