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King fire traps cows, chases residents

California fire: record amount of retardant used

Saturday, September 20, 2014, 8:20 AM - The fire in northern California burns on as firefighters continue to drop record-breaking amounts of retardant.

According to the local spokeperson, California firefighters and the U.S. Forest Services have bombarded the area with nearly 2 million liters of retardant. More than 760,000 liters were dropped in a single day.

The retardant used is usually dyed red and is a mix of water and fertilizer. It's often the first line of defense used by firefighters to give them enough time to dig fire lines. In the case of this wildfire, the intense flames keep on pushing through their lines forcing the fire department to set up another round of fire retardant and draw new lines.

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The practice of using retardant is considered by many a necessary evil. While it does help firefighters it also has an adverse effect on wildlife. Forest Service doesn't use retardant within 100 meters of a body of water, or in areas set aside to protect endangered plant species. Exceptions are made when human lives are in immediate dangers.

The wildfire—being called the King Fire— has been burning for more than a week and is now more than 30,000 hectares. That's larger than the city of Portland. Officials say the fire is about 10 per cent contained and is threatening more than 20,000 buildings. Nearly 5000 firefighters are at the scene battling what is now the largest fire in California.

Throughout the week about 3000 people were forced to leave the area and officials warn that more evacuations could be issued if the fire continues to grow. The weather on Friday helped the flames spread in the area as strong winds, decreased humidity and extremely high temperatures were a recipe for disaster.

A man suspected of setting the fire—37-year-old Wayne Huntsman—pleaded not guilty to an arson charge on Friday. He is being held on a $10 million bail.

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