Firefighters outflank California blaze, last four missing found alive

Carr Fire

Carr Fire

Twin fires in Mendocino and Lake Counties, 120 miles north of San Francisco, had burned through 140 square miles and destroyed 10 homes.

A firetruck rushes past flames that overran a road at the River Fire (Mendocino Complex) in Lakeport, California, US.

While some progress was made overnight on containing portions of the massive Mendocino Complex fire, the blaze's northward advance into the Mendocino National Forest was nearly unabated.

Chief Buttron said the animals survived what could be one of the state's most destructive fire of the year, which has burned more than 11,000 acres in its path.

Scott McLean, another CalFire spokesman, said roughly 40,000 people were under evacuation orders statewide, many from a pair of fires burning close together at the southern end of the Mendocino National Forest.

Cal Fire's public information office Jonathan Cox said the California fires were larger in scale and burning at speeds previously unseen.

Having scorched an area larger than New Orleans, the blaze was the biggest of 16 major wildfires in California and the most formidable of more than 90 across 13 western states from Texas to Alaska.

The largest of them, the Carr Fire north of Sacramento near the city of Redding, has burned for more than a week and engulfed almost 190 square miles.

"We're concerned with individuals that have no family", Bosenko said.

At present more than 50,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the northern California but - extraordinarily - just eight people have been killed.

Officials say 20 people who had been reporting missing in California's devastating wildfires are now accounted for.

Cal Fire said that "steep terrain, erratic winds, and previously unburned fuels are contributing to spot fire potential".

In and around Redding to the north, some evacuees were allowed to return to neighborhoods where more than 1,000 homes were torched.

Rising temperatures cause an earlier melting of accumulated snowpack, Diffenbaugh said; those conditions mean that when the fire season approaches temperatures are now higher than usual and the ground is often dryer than usual.

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