The family, who wore masks and spotted a sign warning of hazardous materials, received hugs and pats on the back from disaster relief volunteers who met them.
Forecasters said the highest threat areas included the so-called Carr Fire near the city of Redding and the Mendocino Complex of two fires north of San Francisco. Firefighters were having some success keeping flames away from heavily populated areas, and officials began allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods. Thousands of people remain evacuated. The blaze has destroyed more than 1,500 structures, including the homes of three Redding firefighters, according to the GoFundMe site. Most are in other western states but wildfires have also struck Texas and Florida, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Crews had reached 30 percent containment on the complex.
"Unstable conditions, shifting winds, steep terrain, and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters", a state fire update warned Wednesday evening (Thursday NZT), noting that 55kmh wind gusts were expected on ridge tops that could whip up the flames.
"It's going to be a very dynamic day and the fire has the potential to impact several communities", said Cal Fire Mendocino Complex Fire Operations Section Chief Charlie Blankenheim during his morning briefing August 4, explaining that on Friday afternoon, the Ranch Fire "made a big push to the south and the east, and overnight continued to burn very, very actively and was backing down into the community of Lucerne, and it made a good push across Long Valley Ridge". The Carr Fire has scorched 126,00 acres (51,00 hectares) of land since July 23, when authorities say it was triggered by the "mechanical failure of a vehicle" that caused sparks to fly in tinderbox dry conditions.
Gov. Jerry Brown was scheduled to visit the fire area in Shasta County on Saturday.
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High winds pushed the flames to the southeast towards Highway 20 in Lake County.
An EF-3 tornado is capable of destroying parts of homes, lifting cars off the ground and stripping the bark off of trees. The fire burning near Redding has grown to 206 square miles (533 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 1,060 homes.
The fire near Covelo prompted evacuation orders for about 60 homes in the farming and ranching area on the edge of the Mendocino National Forest.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which uses acres to describe fire size, said the blaze had blackened almost 206 square miles.
In the Sierra Nevada, firefighters achieved 41 percent containment of a 115-square-mile (298-square-kilometer) 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.