Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 19.
As wildfires choke California, the Trump administration pledged last week to work more closely with state and local officials to prevent wildfires from ever starting. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the Forest Service and other agencies will step up efforts to cut down small trees and underbrush and set controlled fires to remove trees that serve as fuel for catastrophic blazes, including a series of deadly fires that have spread through drought-parched forests and rural communities in California.
The plan, which emphasizes state and local collaboration, was short on details, however. It does not address politically sensitive issues like climate change, which Democrats and scientists argue is at the root of the problem, or the role of environmental reviews for logging projects, which conservatives want to sidestep. And it did not address the possibility of additional funding, suggesting the burden to pay for the new efforts could fall to the states.
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. Six firefighters have died this year fighting the blazes.
The Carr Fire in Shasta County has burned 227,098 acres and is 83 percent contained as of Sunday morning, 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 1,604 structures and damaged 279 more.
The National Park Service said the fire was started by sparks from a flat tire in the Whiskeytown area. As of Wednesday afternoon, all remaining evacuation orders have been lifted, according to Cal Fire.
Officials have lifted all mandatory evacuation orders for the deadly blaze, which is the eighth largest in state history and the fifth most destructive in the state record books. Cal Fire said Wednesday that people are now allowed back in the areas in and around the city of Redding that were impacted by the wildfire that has been burning for more than three weeks. Cal Fire says some public lands will remain closed until a review of potential hazards is finished.
The Mendocino Complex Fire, currently contained at 76 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 Sunday morning, the Ranch Fire has burned 335,647 acres and is 76 percent contained. The River Fire has burned 48,926 acres and is fully contained. Together, the fires have burned 384,567 acres, are threatening 1,050 structures and have destroyed 157 residences and 120 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 19,680 acres and is 65 percent contained as of Sunday 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 31,743 acres and is 49 percent contained as of Sunday morning. 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 Aug. 2 near the Donnell Reservoir in Tuolumne County.
In northern Shasta County, above Shasta Lake, the Hirz Fire grew to 14,014 acres and remained at 11 percent contained on Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County has burned 96,901 acres and is 100 percent contained as of Sunday 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 nineteen more have been injured. The costs of fighting the fire are estimated at $116.9 million.
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.
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 11,157 acres and reached 75 percent containment as of Sunday 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.
The Holy Fire — named for Holy Jim Canyon where it began last Monday — remained at 22,885 acres on Saturday evening, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Firefighters improved containment to 91 percent by Saturday evening. It’s destroyed 18 structures around the Cleveland National Forest.