LAKEPORT (CBS ) – A pair of large wildfires burning on either side of Clear Lake, known as the Mendocino Complex, has expanded forcing new evacuations in Lake and Colusa Counties.
The Mendocino Complex Fire is the largest active inferno in California, surpassing the Carr Fire further north. It is the sixth-largest fire on record in California.
So far, the Ranch and River fires have burned nearly 315 square miles and destroyed 55 homes.
According to Cal Fire, the Ranch Fire grew 25,000 acres overnight to 156,678 acres, and is only 22 percent contained.
“In this particular location, its burning somewhat in our favor, but in other areas, it is not in our favor whatsoever,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Russ Fowler.
Saturday, thousands were forced out of neighborhoods north of Highway 20, in Colusa County.
Cal Fire told KPIX the fire has four heads, is moving in multiple directions and the wind is not helping.
The Ranch Fire jumped a ridge line Friday night, as well as a fire break.
Officials said there are tough fuel loads, oak trees, “obnoxious” brush, dry from years of drought.
Fire crews were making a stand Saturday, trying to save the town of Lucerne in Lake County where there are a lot of homes, but the fire is pushing east, causing major concerns.
They said if the fire jumps one more ridge line it is heading straight for a valley of homes and Interstate 5.
Firefighting air tankers from all over the state were flying suppression missions over the blaze all day Saturday.
“Our air attack up in the sky and our lead planes are keeping those planes safe – keeping the airspace coordinated,” said Fowler. “It’s a huge effort on the ground making sure all of our priority drops are accommodated in this location and at the head of the fire right now – which there are four heads of this fire. This is not one of them, though it looks like it.”
The River Fire has charred some 47,663 acres and is 50 percent contained.
In all, the Mendocino Complex Fires threaten more than 15,000 homes and structures, according to Cal Fire. More than 3,500 fire personnel are on the ground. There are firefighters from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
Evacuation centers have been set up at the following places:
For animals, evacuation centers have been set up at:
Meanwhile, Yosemite Valley will remain closed at least through Sunday as the Ferguson Fire continues to creep into the park. All non-essential personnel were evacuated Friday due to dangerous road conditions, smoke and power outages.
The fire jumped a section of Highway 41 near Wawona and shut down a stretch of the Highway 140 corridor.
Wildfires have had a devastating effect on tourism. Local business are deserted.
Jayson Perkins owns the Cedar House Restaurant on Highway 140, in El Portal..
“It’s sad. In the wintertime it’s slow but still nothing like this — you have zero,” he said.
“July and August are our busiest months of the year.”