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A pair of explosive wildfires burning across Lake County raged further into their second week Saturday, forcing new evacuations as dry and windy weather fueled growth in the blazes, now one of the largest infernos in California history.

The Ranch and River fires swelled to more than 229,000 acres by Saturday evening, up from 157,450 acres on Friday, with most of the growth in national forest and lightly settled land north and east of Clear Lake. Still, mandatory evacuation orders now stretch across three counties: Lake, Mendocino and Colusa, where a total of about 17,000 people have been told to flee.

Known as the Mendocino Complex fires, they currently rank as the sixth-largest conflagrations ever in California, just behind the Zaca fire that burned in Santa Barbara County in 2007. The Ranch and River fires have destroyed 104 structures, including 55 homes, and continue to threaten 15,300 more, Cal Fire reported.

“The winds have not been our friend today,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg. “The growth of the Ranch fire has floored all of us.”

The Ranch fire alone grew by 66,000 acres since Friday, and stood at 181,343 acres Saturday evening. By comparison, the four largest North Bay fires last October — the Nuns, Atlas, Tubbs and Redwood Valley fires — burned 181,510 acres.

The Ranch and River fires ignited July 27 about 14 miles apart in Mendocino County, the Ranch fire east of Ukiah and the River fire near Hopland. The cause for both fires is under investigation.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday requested President Donald Trump declare a major disaster to bolster the emergency response and government assistance for wildfires burning across at least four counties in the state: Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Shasta.

The pair of local blazes are among 17 major fires burning across the state.

“Battling these relentless fires requires a Herculean effort,” Brown said in his request. “Additional federal assistance is needed immediately to reduce the direct threat to public health and safety.”

The disaster request for Shasta County was approved, Brown’s office said late Saturday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reviewing the requests for Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties “on an expedited basis as preliminary damage assessments continue,” the governor’s office said.

Saturday’s strong winds, warm temperatures and low humidity fueled extreme fire behavior in some parts of Lake County, with flame lengths as tall as 300 feet. Winds gusted up to 40 mph, said Michelle Mead, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

“It’s obviously not good,” Mead said. “It allows the fire to expand because it’s got more energy.”

A huge plume of smoke was clearly visible from most of Sonoma County, including Highway 101, prompting numerous calls to local emergency dispatchers. Many callers worried the fire was “right on top of their hill,” a dispatcher said.

Temperatures were forecast to hit the low- to mid-50s overnight, Mead said. Winds were also expected to calm before cooler and more moist air moves in today, raising humidity — “a good thing for firefighting purposes,” Mead said.

Much of the Ranch fire’s growth Saturday was east toward the Indian Valley area, said Cal Fire spokesman Will Powers. The blaze has entered the burn scar of the Pawnee fire, which was contained less than a month ago.

More than a third of Lake County’s landscape has burned in the last three years. Burned areas now nearly ring Clear Lake, with the most extreme destruction still located on the south and southeastern end of the lake, which was torched by a devastating series of wildfires three years ago.

“I’ve heard from county officials, evacuating residents, grizzled Cal Fire veterans (alike): This is unheard of,” McGuire said. “This fire is now burning one of the last and largest untouched areas in the county of Lake.”

Mandatory evacuation orders stretch from the Clearlake Oaks area on the northeast side of Clear Lake into the north Lakeport area on the west shore and north to the northern Lake County line. Evacuation orders remain in place for parts of southwestern Mendocino County and northwestern Colusa County. Advisories were issued in southwestern Glenn County as well.

The fires have shut down many of Clear Lake’s shoreline communities in the middle of what should be peak summer tourist season, dealing another economic blow to a county whose coffers have been severely strained by fires in recent years.

McGuire said he and other state legislators who represent the area want the state to provide an advance in disaster assistance funding to help Lake County grapple with the Ranch and River fires.

As communities on the north side of Clear Lake have been evacuated recently, customers have flocked to Main Street Bar & Grill in the city of Clearlake on the southeastern shore.

“It’s so bittersweet whenever there’s a natural disaster like this,” said manager Lisa Cole. “Because everybody is evacuated and they’re evacuated to this end of the lake. It happens over and over with every fire we’ve had.”

Cole’s fire-related saga began late last month when her son was evacuated because of the Carr fire burning in the Redding area, she said.

Cole herself evacuated three times in the last four years in Lake County. A 28-year Clearlake resident, she said the series of devastating fires that have besieged the region in recent years have taken a toll.

“Most of us up here suffer from some form of PTSD due to all the fires that we’ve had,” she said. “Whenever a fire breaks out, we all get that really anxious feeling. It’s been really hard for me to concentrate and focus at work.”

Still, Cole said most of her customers seem to be “going with the flow” and are in “decent spirits.”

“They seem hopeful,” she said. “Everybody seems hopeful.”

Though the Ranch and River fires are burning just several miles apart in some areas, Cal Fire and Lake County officials said Saturday they didn’t expect the blazes to merge.

“It’s going as well as can be expected under the extreme fire danger and fire conditions,” Lake County Supervisor Jim Steele said of the firefight.

“The winds are pretty much dictating it,” he said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said three men were arrested Saturday morning in the Nice area after they refused to leave the Ranch fire evacuation zone and were watering their cannabis plants instead.

Firefighters had to divert three air tanker passes that were intended to help prevent the inferno from burning into Lucerne, according to Lt. Corey Paulich.

The men were identified as Gary Wertheimer, 41, of Nice; Steven Bell, 59, of Redwood Valley; and Travis Bell, 29, of Nice.

They were arrested on suspicion of interfering with firefighters during a fire operation and being unauthorized people in an evacuation area and were released with a citation.

You can reach Staff Writers J.D. Morris 707-521-5337 or jd.morris@pressdemocrat.com and Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.

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