FORESTHILL, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters once again kept flames from entering a Northern California mountain town, reporting significant progress Thursday against a week-long blaze that has turned wild. the largest in the state so far this year.
The situation of the so-called Mosquito Fire, about 177 kilometers northeast of San Francisco, was “much better,” according to fire spokesman Scott McLean.
Crews on the ground built containment lines for the fire while helicopters dropped water on hot spots after the fire flared up again Tuesday, burning buildings near Foresthill.
“It’s looking very good in the West End, where we had this drastic increase in fires earlier in the week,” McLean said Thursday. Flames shot up a drainage ditch into a neighborhood, but firefighters saved all the houses.
Scientists say climate change has made the western United States hotter and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
In the last five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive fires in its history.
Evacuation orders remained in place for about 11,000 residents Thursday due to the unpredictable nature of the winds, McLean said. He said winds typically blow in the direction of several canyons and could spread flames quickly if gusts pick up.
The Mosquito Fire was 20% contained after destroying at least 70 homes and other property. Wednesday’s 100-square-mile (258-square-kilometer) fire surpassed the size of the previous largest conflagration in 2022 — the McKinney Fire — though this season has seen a fraction of last year’s wildfire activity, so far.