Donald Trump declares major disaster as flames tear state apart

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These fires were a top priority. But to show how overburdened the state’s firefighting agency is, fire officials said only 1,400 firefighters had been assigned to tackle the LNU Lightning Complex blaze in the wine region in the north of San Francisco, which was only 15% contained.By comparison, around 5,000 firefighters were assigned to the Mendocino Complex blaze in 2018, the largest blaze in recent state history.

“All of our resources are still being used at capacities that we haven’t seen in recent history,” said Shana Jones, Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa unit chief.

“We are making progress, but we are not out of the woods,” she said.

Highlighting the danger that fires pose to firefighters, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Friday night released dramatic video of the helicopter rescue of two firefighters trapped on a ridge line at Point Reyes National Seashore. They were hoisted to safety as the flames advanced.

“Without this helicopter, these firefighters certainly would have perished,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said.

Containment of the blaze burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coast of San Mateo County, south of San Francisco, was only 5%, and 115 homes and other structures had been destroyed. Firefighters have established a firebreak to protect the evacuated University of California, the Santa Cruz campus and surrounding areas.

“This is not a quick fix. But it gives us a really good bastion to keep the fire from moving south into these communities, ”Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mark Brunton said.

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