published on August 1, 2018 - 1:19 PM
Written by Associated Press

(AP) — The Latest on destructive wildfires in California and the U.S. West (all times local):

12:35 p.m.
Australia and New Zealand are sending 146 firefighters and fire managers to help their counterparts in the Western United States.

The U.S. National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday it requested the help because its resources are stretched thin.

The two countries are sending supervisors, safety officers, heavy equipment and helicopter managers, helicopter crew members and structure protection specialists.

They’re expected to arrive at the interagency fire center in Boise, Idaho, late this week and then be deployed after a one-day orientation.

This is the seventh season since 2000 that Australia and New Zealand have sent firefighters to the United States. The U.S. sent firefighters to Australia in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

11:45 a.m.
A disaster relief organization says it’s preparing to send respiratory masks, hygiene kits and other first aid supplies to help thousands of people displaced by a massive wildfire in Northern California.

Americares said Wednesday it is working with a local health center in Redding, California, where 38,000 residents were displaced by the blaze. Thousands have been allowed to return home, but the hardest-hit areas in impoverished Lake County remain out of reach.

Americares says the shipment will help families to protect their health.

Red Cross spokesman Stephen Walsh says the organization has five shelters opened, though he says some people are starting to return home.

The wildfire burning and polluting the air since July 23 has destroyed more than 1,000 homes. It was 34 percent contained Wednesday.

11:20 a.m.
California Gov. Jerry Brown says the state will spend whatever it takes to fight wildfires ravaging California that have wiped out more than 1,000 homes and killed eight people so far. Just a month into the budget year, the state has already spent one quarter of its annual fire budget, at least $130 million.

Brown said Wednesday that the state’s funding is in good economic shape thanks to a robust rainy day fund.

But the Democratic governor warned that about 16 large fires now burning mostly in Northern California represent a new threat for firefighters and emergency officials.

He says they are being surprised and every year is teaching authorities new lessons. A wildfire near Redding that destroyed more than 1,000 homes is now the sixth-most destructive in state history. Officials said tornado-like winds whipped up the fire in unpredictable ways.

9:50 a.m.
Children attending summer camps and others have been told to leave immediately as a wildfire burns in a wilderness area in south-central Washington.

The fire is burning about 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of Yakima within the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It was started by lightning and was reported Monday.

The Herald-Republic says about 400 children and employees at camps in the Clear Lake area were evacuated Tuesday.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed the White Pass and Clear Lake recreational areas because the fire is burning close to popular trails, campgrounds and homes. It has scorched about 30 acres (12 hectares).

District Ranger Kelly Lawrence says the closure is needed because fires burning across the U.S. West have exhausted resources and it’s been difficult to staff the Miriam Fire.

7:30 a.m.
Fire officials say a massive blaze in Northern California has torched 1,018 homes in and around the city of Redding.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday that another 440 buildings including barns and warehouses have also been destroyed by the fire.

The huge Redding area blaze that has been burning for more than a week has displaced 38,000 from their homes and killed six people. Redding Police on Tuesday asked for help from the public locating four people who are still missing.

Thousands of people were allowed to return to their homes this week but the blaze continues to burn and has scorched 180 square miles (470 square kilometers). It is 35 percent contained.

The wildfire is now the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history.

12:00 a.m.
New fires continue to erupt in Northern California where firefighters already are struggling to ring massive and deadly blazes that have torched about a thousand homes.

North of San Francisco, a fire that flared Tuesday near rural Covelo raced through brush, grass and timber. About 60 homes were ordered evacuated.

Another fire north of Sacramento destroyed more than 1 1/2 square miles of grassy ranchland in a few hours.

Already burning are twin fires straddling Mendocino and Lake counties that have burned seven homes and threaten 12,000 more.

And the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history is only 30 percent contained in the Redding area.

The Carr Fire has killed six people and destroyed 965 homes.


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