(SOURCE) Thanks to a massive wildfire in northern California, fire crews have dropped a record half-million gallons of fire retardant on the King fire, officials say.
More than 203,000 gallons of retardant were dropped in a single day as the blaze raged, according to fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff. Retardant — a water-and-fertilizer mix colored with red dye — are used as an initial attack tool on wildfires to buy time for crews to get to the scene and dig fire lines.
The King fire is one of at least nine sizeable wildfires CalFire is monitoring, as hot, dry conditions, and the historic drought, make potent conditions for fire starters. Earlier this week, the Bolles fire burned about 150 homes and buildings in Weed, California, while the Courtney fire in Madera County destroyed about 50 more.
“Unfortunately, much of California is shunted from the Pacific Ocean’s moisture, and little to no chance of rain will be in the forecast for much of California until the middle of next week,” Warrilow said.
Here’s the latest information on the most-impactful fires across the state:
King Fire (El Dorado County, Central California) Update:
Latest Statistics: 80,000 Acres Burned, 12,000 Homes Threatened, 10 Percent Contained
The King fire has been one of the most formidable in the West this year, ballooning in size and keeping firefighters on the defensive to keep it out of residential areas.
“They can slow it down a little bit. But they’re not able to hold it long enough to get ground units in there to extinguish it before it burns through and continues its path,” Tolmachoff said.
The King Fire, which authorities said was deliberately set, has chewed through nearly 120 square miles of timber and vegetation about 60 miles east of Sacramento. It was 10 percent contained.
The blaze in steep terrain forced the evacuation of 2,800 people and burned multiple structures in the White Meadows area of Pollock Pines, but details of the damage were not yet available because officials can’t assess the area until it’s safe to do so. One resident who has been helping carve fire lines with his bulldozer told the Sacramento Bee he lost his home on White Meadows Road when he went to check on it Friday.
“My house got burned. My house is gone. My outbuildings are gone,” Tom Boscow said. “I just wish I’d been here.”
The fire is threatening a key University of California, Berkeley research station that is home to scores of experiments on trees, plants and other wildlife. It is also threatening hydroelectric facilities and power lines that deliver water and electricity to the Sacramento region and some treasured Sierra Nevada recreations areas, the Bee reported. Some power stations and lines either burned or were shut down as a precaution, cutting off energy from three utility agencies’ hydroelectric reservoirs.
The man suspected of setting the fire, Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, pleaded not guilty to an arson charge Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court. He was being held on $10 million bail.
Authorities have not said what evidence they have linking Huntsman to the fire, by far the largest of about a dozen fires burning statewide.