Relentless heat to feed California firestorm as Carr Fire death toll reaches 6
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
July 31, 2018, 6:34:53 AM EDT
The hot, dry weather that contributed to the deadly California firestorm shows no sign of letting up into the first part of August.
"Unfortunately, not much is expected to change in regards to the weather pattern for a majority of the West, with hot, dry weather keeping the wildfire threat at extreme levels through the first days of August," AccuWeather Meteorologist and western U.S. blogger Jordan Root said.
While a sweep of cooler air will quell the 90-degree heat in the Pacific Northwest at midweek, Root said the heat relief will not make it south into California or the rest of the Southwest.
Temperatures in the triple digits will remain into the first weekend of August across northern and central portions of California. Temperatures have averaged about 4 degrees above normal this summer.
This includes Redding where the explosive Carr Fire continues to blaze a path of destruction.
Fire crews and anyone else spending time outdoors will need to make sure they stay properly hydrated and take frequent breaks to lessen the risk of heat-related illnesses.
Outside of spotty afternoon thunderstorms in the highest elevations of the West, no drought-busting or wildfire-dousing rainfall is in the cards through at least this week.
Heat to fuel Carr Fire, dozens of other blazes in West
The continued weather pattern will help to fuel ongoing wildfires, complicate firefighting efforts and may cause new flare ups to turn into raging infernos in a short amount of time.
The Carr Fire continues to pose the most significant risk to lives and property, charring nearly 104,000 acres, destroying over 800 residential structures and forcing tens of thousands to evacuate in Redding.
Thousands of homes remain threatened.
After days of minimal containment, crews have been able to make some progress over the past few days, with containment now up to 23 percent.
The furious blaze has killed six people since igniting on Monday, July 23, including a bulldozer operator, a Redding fire inspector and two young children and their great-grandmother, according to the Associated Press (AP). Seven people remain missing.
Authorities found a sixth body on Sunday in a home consumed by the flames.
The cause of the blaze has been attributed to the mechanical failure of a vehicle.
AccuWeather meteorologist and volunteer firefighter Evan Duffey is concerned that the fire can continue to create its own weather, making it even more dangerous to fight as it can spread quickly and erratically.
"Rapidly rising air caused by the extreme heat helps the fire to grow explosively as the fire will create its own wind, as well as fire vortices (firenadoes) and tree crowning (when the leaves get engulfed by flames), even on otherwise calm days,” Duffey said.
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“It’s burning in every direction all at the same time,” Cal Fire Chief Steve Crawford told the AP in reference to the Carr Fire. “It’s burning as if it’s got strong wind on it even when there’s no wind.”
As cooler air begins to push across the Pacific Northwest, winds may increase from the south and southwest in the Redding area by the middle part of this week. Winds averaging 10-20 mph are possible.
Farther south in California, the Ferguson Fire, which has consumed over 57,000 acres near Yosemite National Park, forced the closure of Yosemite Valley on Wednesday, July 25. Two firefighters have died while battling the blaze.
The area is set to reopen on Friday afternoon, Aug. 3, according to the National Park Service.
The Cranston Fire burning in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles has forced the closure of numerous hiking trails and campgrounds in the area. Evacuations remain in place in several communities.
Last Wednesday, Cal Fire Law Enforcement Officers arrested Brandon McGlover, 32, of Temecula for setting the fire.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for California, providing federal assistance to areas affected by wildfires.
Outside of California, dozens of other wildfires in the West are charring hundreds of thousands of acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
“The smoke from all of these blazes will reduce visibility and cause poor air quality that can lead to serious health problems,” Root said.
People should limit time outdoors and avoid strenuous activities amid smoky conditions, especially the elderly, children and those with respiratory problems.
Residents are also encouraged to have an emergency bag packed in the event of a quick evacuation. Remember to take along food and any medications for pets.
Download the free AccuWeather app to receive air quality and fire danger alerts for your area.
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