FIRE MAP: Mendocino Complex Fire as of Thursday morning

Flames engulf a ridge as the River Fire threatens the town of Lakeport Calif. Aug. 3 2018

Flames engulf a ridge as the River Fire threatens the town of Lakeport Calif. Aug. 3 2018

The column of fire produced by "intense rising heat and turbulent winds" was equivalent to an F3 tornado and left a path of destruction - completely stripping bark off of trees, uprooting some others and collapsing power line towers, according to the National Weather Service. But she said trajectory and the weather forecast prompted officials to evacuate the communities Friday out of an abundance of caution. Workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.

El Portal Road (extension of Highway 140 within the park) and Big Oak Flat Road west of Crane Flat may be closed for an extended period of time due to fire activity, hazard trees, and firefighters working on the roads, the NPS said.

Firefighters all across the Bay Area continue to help out with the wildfires burning in California, with many being sent out to the front lines of the Carr and the Mendocino Complex fires.

Varney became the first of four California firefighters to die this year in the Carr and Ferguson fires.

The weather service issued warnings for critical fire weather conditions into Saturday, saying a series of dry low-pressure systems passing through the region would bring afternoon wind gusts.

"This is a particularly risky situation with extremely low humidity and high winds". It has destroyed 1,567 homes and other structures and blackened 131,896 acres (53,376 hectares), making it the sixth most destructive California wildfire on record.

Traffic passes through heavy smoke from the River Fire at sunset as it threatens the town of Lakeport Calif. Aug. 3 2018
Traffic passes through heavy smoke from the River Fire at sunset as it threatens the town of Lakeport Calif. Aug. 3 2018

Forecasters said highest threat areas include a fire near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco.

The Mendocino Complex fires, consisting of the Ranch Fire and River Fire in Mendocino and Lake Counties, have scorched over 90,000 acres and are at least 24 percent contained.

Both fires were active overnight, including a rapid expansion eastward by the Ranch Fire.

The River Fire is 35,278 acres and 50 percent contained.

In Sierra Nevada, firefighters achieved 41 per cent containment of a 115-square-mile forest fire that has shut down Yosemite Valley and other adjacent portions of Yosemite National Park at what is normally the height of summer tourism.

Western Lake County had its advisory upgraded to a mandatory evacuation for the area west of Lucerne at Bartlett Springs Road and Highway 20, south of the fire, east of the fire, north of Clear Lake including the communities of Blue Lakes, Upper Lake, Nice, Lakeport, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Scotts Valley and Saratoga Springs, according to a Mendocino National Forest incident update.

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