US President Donald Trump has approved declaring the wildfires in the state of California a “major disaster” as a seventh person died on Saturday and a couple of other fast-growing wildfires expanded and continued to spread.
More residents in northern California were ordered to evacuate their homes as weary firefighters endured high temperatures and gusting winds.
The Carr fire, about 162 miles (261 km) north of Sacramento, claimed the life of a power company lineman Saturday.
The fire is one of the most destructive in California history and had already killed six people, including a great-grandmother and two children, and a firefighter and bulldozer operator.
Two other blazes collectively called the Mendocino Complex burned in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties, about 90 miles north of San Francisco.
The Mendocino Complex fires cover more than two-thirds the size of sprawling Los Angeles. They have forced the evacuation of more than 20,000 residents and destroyed more than 100 structures.
This year, California wildfires have burned more land earlier in the “fire season” than usual, said Ken Pimlott, Cal Fire director, during a news conference on Saturday.
“Fire season is really just beginning. What seems like we should be in the peak of fire season, historically, is really now the kind of conditions we’re seeing really at the beginning,” said Pimlott.
California Governor Jerry Brown, who visited some of the burned areas on Saturday, said, “This is part of a trend, the new normal, that we’ve got to deal with.”
Through last week, California fires had torched about 290,000 acres (117,300 hectares), more than double the five-year average over that same period, according to Cal Fire.
So far this year, US fires have burned 5 million acres (2 million hectares), much more than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Trump declares California wildfires as 'major emergency'
Trump declared a “major disaster” in California and ordered federal funding to be made available to help recovery efforts in areas affected by wildfires, the White House said in a statement on Sunday.
The White House said Trump had “ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires and high winds beginning on July 23, 2018, and continuing.”