Firefighter Killed at Scene of Wildfire in California Forest

September 2, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — A firefighter was killed and another injured Monday battling a wildfire in the Northern California forest, authorities said.

The firefighter was killed in Mendocino National Forest north of San Francisco, where a wildfire that started on Aug. 17 was 20% contained, according to a statement from the U.S. Forest Service.

No other details were immediately available.

The blaze was burning in timber, chaparral and tall grass. It began as 37 separate fires but many have either been contained or merged, according to the Forest Service.

Many other fires continued to burn.

California was free of extreme weather warnings Monday but firefighters working to contain massive wildfires were cautioned about increasingly warm and dry conditions heading toward the Labor Day weekend.

The two largest fires, east and north of San Francisco Bay, were each about 65% surrounded, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. A third big fire, burning to the south in the Santa Cruz Mountains region, was 41% surrounded.

That fire has burned nearly 900 homes.

The progress has allowed thousands of people to return home but nearly 40,000 remained under evacuation orders, Cal Fire said.

Those fires and others began with a massive electrical storm on Aug. 15 that unleashed thousands of lightning bolts.

Hundreds of wildfires ignited in that time period have burned more than 2,218 square miles (5,747 square kilometers).

There have been eight deaths and more than 2,800 structures destroyed, many of them homes.

A Red Flag warning in Humboldt and Del Norte counties expired at late morning. Air quality alerts due to smoke went into effect for the Lake County air basin and in parts of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

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