Firefighters Make Progress on California's Largest Wildfire

Firefighters are making progress against the largest California wildfire ever recorded although thousands of homes and buildings remain under threat.

State fire officials Wednesday night say the Mendocino Complex — twin fires that are being fought together — has destroyed 119 homes and 480 square miles of brush and timber north of San Francisco.

The complex is 60 percent contained. However, the smaller of the two blazes, River Fire, actually is 87 percent surrounded. Fire crews have kept the southern edge from spreading and authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders for most communities near the resort of Clear Lake.

Senator Kamala Harris met with firefighters and Mendocino Complex Fire evacuees in Middletown Thursday to see and hear first-hand what firefighters and fire victims need.

She plans to head back to Washington and fight for more funding to help communities rebuild and for fire agencies to fight and prevent future fires.

"What we want is resources dedicated to active fire and resources for prevention as opposed to dipping into one fund to do both," Harris said.

A record 1,400 firefighters are deployed including some from across the country and New Zealand and Australia.

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Meanwhile, the Carr fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding in Northern California remains 47 percent surrounded.

A Cal Fire Heavy Equipment Mechanic Andrew Brake from the Butte Unit assigned to the Carr Fire died while on his way to work Thursday, Cal Fire said.

The 40-year-old, a six-year Cal Fire veteran, was killed in a traffic accident on Hwy. 99 in Tehama County. 

"Anne and I offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Andrew Brake, who passed away in a vehicle accident on his way to work this morning," said Governor Jerry Brown in a statement. "On behalf of all Californians, we honor Andrew and the many other brave firefighters and emergency responders who have risked their lives to protect others." 

Brake grew up in Chico and is survived by a wife and two daughters.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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