Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Firefighters made progress on a Southern California wildfire that destroyed 18 structures and ripped through 35.5 square miles of dry brush while crews in Northern California gained ground on deadly and destructive blazes that have burned for two weeks. Here is the latest information on the fires burning across the Golden State.
According to Cal Fire, over 13,800 firefighters are on the front lines of 12 large wildfires in the state. These fires have burned over 688,000 acres (1,075 square miles) and damaged or destroyed over 2,000 structures.
The Holy Fire — named for Holy Jim Canyon where it began last Monday — rose to 22,986 acres on Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Firefighters battling the blaze made progress, with containment rising to 59 percent.
Aircraft have been making flight after flight, dumping water and bright pink retardant to protect Lake Elsinore and other foothill communities of Riverside and Orange counties as the fire sweeps through the dense, bone-dry brush of the Cleveland National Forest.
As crews made progress on the fire, firefighters began lifting evacuation orders over the weekend, according to the Associated Press. At one point, more than 20,000 people were under evacuation orders.
The man charged with deliberately starting the fire appeared in court Friday, but his arraignment was postponed. Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, made several outbursts, claiming his life was being threatened and said the arson charge against him was a lie. A court commissioner ordered his bail to remain at $1 million.
The Carr Fire in Shasta County has burned 211,019 acres and is 65 percent contained as of Tuesday evening, according to Cal Fire. The blaze began at about 1:15 p.m. on July 23. The wildfire has contributed to the deaths of eight people and has destroyed 1,599 structures and damaged 282 more. Also, 44 structures are threatened.
The National Park Service said the fire was started by sparks from a flat tire in the Whiskeytown area. While some evacuation orders have been lifted, mandatory evacuations and road closures are still in place.
The blaze became the eighth largest wildfire in California history on Sunday, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.
In a visit Friday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told residents to prepare for future emergencies and thanked firefighters. Nielsen said she saw “truly heartbreaking” scenes of homes reduced to ash and fences replaced with caution tape.
The Mendocino Complex Fire, currently contained at 70 percent, consists of the Ranch and River fires in Mendocino County. The Ranch Fire is located about 8 miles northeast of Ukiah and the River Fire is 6 miles north of Hopland, according to Cal Fire. The Ranch Fire began about 12:03 p.m. July 27 and the River Fire began at 1:01 p.m. July 27, according to Cal Fire.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Ranch Fire has burned 305,990 acres and is 64 percent contained – down four percent from Tuesday morning. The River Fire has burned 48,920 acres and is 100 percent contained. Together, the fires have burned 354,910 acres, are threatening 1,025 structures and have destroyed 147 residences and 118 other buildings.
The Ranch Fire is now the largest in California history, according to Cal Fire.
On Monday evening, Cal Fire confirmed that a Utah firefighter was killed battling the blaze, marking the fire’s first fatality.
The Natchez Fire near the Oregon border has burned 13,756 acres and is 55 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It was caused by lightning.
Crews are making progress on the Donnell Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest by lighting backfires and improving containment lines. In all, the fire has burned 29,569 acres and is 25 percent contained as of Tuesday. At least 53 cabins, as well as the historic Dardanelle Resort, have been destroyed, and evacuations remain in effect for Highway 108 from Eagle Meadow Road to Kennedy Meadows. Sonora Pass also remains closed. The fire began Wednesday near the Donnell Reservoir in Tuolumne County.
The Hat Fire in steep terrain near Burney in eastern Shasta County grew to 1,900 acres and was 85 percent contained, Cal Fire said Tuesday afternoon. Evacuations were lifted Saturday afternoon, no homes have been destroyed by the fire, which started Thursday.
In northern Shasta County, above Shasta Lake, the Hirz Fire grew to 5,689 acres and was 5 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County has burned 96,606 acres and is 86 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire began at about 8:30 p.m. on July 13. Two firefighters have been killed battling the blaze and seven more have been injured. The wildfire forced the closure of Yosemite Valley on July 25.
Yosemite Valley reopened to the public at 9 a.m. Tuesday, while Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reopened on Monday, officials said. But Tunnel View and Glacier Point Road, as well as the Hetch Hetchy area, will remain closed as fire crews continue to battle the wildfire. The scenic Yosemite Valley, 350 campsites and all the park hotels have been closed since July 25.
“This is truly a historic and unprecedented event in park history, and we are thrilled to welcome back visitors to Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove,” said Michael Reynolds, the park’s superintendent.
Visitors should expect limited hours and visitor services as the park returns to normal, and as fire personnel continue to battle the blaze, spokesman Scott Gediman said. “Park visitors should be aware that there is still active fire and smoke on the roads, and people should drive with extreme caution,” he said.
The Lions Fire south of Yosemite has burned 10,002 acres and reached 70 percent containment as of Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fire started about noon on June 11 and was caused by lightning. It crossed onto the Inyo National Forest on June 22. Poor visibility in the area has prevented authorities from accurately mapping the fire, so acreage amounts are estimates.