NZ firefighters return home after battling California blazes

Charlene Craig
September 8, 2018

California is taking a financial wallop from unrelenting wildfires that have drained its firefighting budget and prompted almost $1 billion in property claims even before the start of the risky fall fire season, officials said Thursday.

This morning the US Forest Service is reporting, "The fire has grown primarily to the north and northwest of Vollmers, burning on both sides of Interstate 5...[T] he Shasta County Sheriff's Office is coordinating evacuations for areas affected by the incident".

The fire has chewed through 58 square miles (150 square kilometers) of timber since Wednesday.

Firefighters have not been able to build any containment lines against the fast-moving blaze, officials with the Shasta-Trinity National Forest said on Twitter.

About 17 big-rigs were abandoned and at least four caught fire, Lt Cmdr Kyle Foster of the California Highway Patrol's Mount Shasta office told the Los Angeles Times.

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The wildfire closed down dozens of miles of a major California freeway only weeks after a nearby blaze left neighborhoods in ruins and killed eight people.

The blaze also delayed Amtrak's Coast Starlight train service between Sacramento and Oregon.

It comes just weeks after a devastating fire destroyed almost 1,100 homes and killed eight people in the same area.

Firefighters are battling a new round of wildfires in California even as battles against earlier fires continue to wind down.

Authorities closed a major highway and issued evacuation orders to areas in the path of the expanding conflagration. It prompted mandatory evacuations and was moving rapidly but remained far from any large towns.

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For the city of Dunsmuir, it's just an evacuation warning, which means residents don't have to leave yet - but should be ready to, just in case.

The area includes about 25 homes, and the fire is about a mile away from the main group of structures and a little over a mile from Alpen Cellars, he said.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokeswoman Carol Underhill said she wasn't sure how people apparently escaped the abandoned trucks, but she said crews had been going through and trying to help drivers.

The scale of the Carr and Ferguson fires, blowing eastward across the western United States, is apparent in this photo by European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst aboard the International Space Station. Officials fear it will expand eastward and merge with the Hirz fire, which is mostly contained but has burned more than 45,000 acres. The fire continues to burn on both sides of I-5.

Bruce Palmer prepares to tow a truck scorched by the Delta Fire on Interstate 5 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., near Shasta Lake on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

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One of the two blazes was fully contained in August and residents have been allowed to return home.

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