Crews battling deadly California wildfire slowed by returning winds

A fire truck rushes past flames that overran a road at the River Fire in Lakeport California on Tuesday

Just when firefighters were making progress on a massive fire burning in Mendocino and Lake counties, Mother Nature was preparing to deliver another haymaker with forecasters predicting a triple threat of high winds, soaring temperatures and falling humidity.

As of last week, the state has spent a quarter of its annual emergency budget on battling the fires.

The current U.S. fire season has been exacerbated by excessively dry and hot weather conditions, resulting in intense fire fronts and dangerously low percentages of fire containment.

Strong gusts kicking up along the upper ridge lines on Wednesday night were a cause for concern on the fire's rugged western flanks, a few miles from the town of Lewiston, which remained evacuated.

MOBILE USERS: If you're having trouble viewing the map, use this direct link. The Carr Fire burning in Shasta County has grown over 115,000 acres and is 35 percent contained.

It's the largest of 18 wildfires burning throughout California. Brown said the trend would likely worsen if forecasts by climate scientists come to pass.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Thursday firefighters made some gains and the blaze is now a third contained.

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There have been more than 1,546 structures destroyed in Redding and the surrounding area with 121,000 acres scorched by the blaze. The nearby Ranch Fire also broke out Friday and has burned almost 75,000 acres.

Officials say 20 people who had been reporting missing in California's devastating wildfires are now accounted for.

"In past decades, we may have seen fires like we are seeing now in August or September", said Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott.

Tens of thousands of people across California are waiting to return home or assess what remains of their homes after the fires.

More than 1,000 families have lost their homes, their prized possessions.

Weather conditions are doing nothing to aid firefighters in tackling the blaze, as fierce winds fan the flames further. The warning, covering the fire's entire burn area, begins at 8 p.m. Thursday and will be in effect 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

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