Yakima-based outfit sends crews to help battle California wildfires

Containment of the fire has increased, and weather conditions are expected to improve overnight, officials said Thursday.

"If I knew this was going to happen, maybe those 45 minutes I spent trying to put the fire down, I should've just grabbed all the belongings", Garnica said.

Fire officials say winds that propelled the blaze across 12.5 square miles (32 sq. kilometers) of northern Orange County have eased and a cooler, wetter marine layer of air should help the fight Tuesday night. A few left behind cookies for firefighters and signs reading, "Please save our home!" His executive order directs federal agencies, notably the Labor Department, to relax rules on coverage and benefits under smaller businesses that band together to buy insurance as an association and short-term insurance plans.

"Make no mistake", he added later, "this is a serious, critical, catastrophic event".

Two hospitals in the county were forced to evacuate, while authorities imposed a sunset-to-sunrise curfew in the region, saying they were on the lookout for looters. As the fires grow, officials voiced concern that separate blazes would merge into even larger infernos.

Flames have raced across the wine-growing region and the scenic coastal area of Mendocino farther north, leveling whole neighborhoods and leaving only brick chimneys and charred appliances to mark where homes once stood. Countless emergency vehicles hurried toward the flames, sirens blaring, as evacuees sped away after jamming possessions into their cars and filling their gas tanks. On Saturday, the 44-year-old got an estimate to replace the fence, one of the last items on his list.

They said 8,000 firefighters and other personnel were battling the blazes and more resources were pouring in from Arizona, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Until now, the efforts have focused on "life safety" rather than extinguishing the blazes, partly because the flames were shifting with winds and targeting new communities without warning. "When you look at the destruction, it's literally like it exploded", California Fire Director Ken Pimlot said.

A Southern California wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings - most of them homes - was contained yesterday.

  • Leon Brazil