California's largest wildfire surges overnight

Aug 4 (Reuters) - A fast-growing California wildfire that has already forced thousands to flee their homes and shut down a large national park surged overnight into Saturday, as fatigued firefighters battled gusting winds.

The blaze in Mendocino County, about 90 miles (145 km) north of San Francisco, had spread to cover a total of 201,471 acres (81,500 hectares) by early Saturday, after increasing more than 25 percent in size from Friday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said. It was 34 percent contained.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is now the state's largest fire at more than two-thirds the size of sprawling Los Angeles and has forced the evacuation of nearly 16,000 residents and destroyed more than 100 structures.

RELATED: Wildfires near Redding, California

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Wildfires near Redding, California
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Wildfires near Redding, California
TOPSHOT - An inmate firefighter pauses during a firing operation as the Carr fire continues to burn in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. - One person has died and at least two others have been injured as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Toys stand untouched near a home destroyed by the Carr Fire west of Redding, California, U.S. July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
A woman covers her face while viewing her grandmother's burned home during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. - 'Two firefighters have been killed in the Carr fire. A private contractor (operating) a bulldozer died yesterday and a Redding City firefighter was killed in the evening,' a spokesman for Calfire, the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told AFP. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A real estate sign is seen in front of a burning home during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. - One firefighter has died and at least two others have been injured as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Kambryn Brilz, 12, holds her dog Zoe at her burnt home after she was returned safely by a neighbor during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. One firefighter has died and at least two others have been injured as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
The debris of a burned home is seen after the Carr Fire west of Redding, California, U.S. July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong?
A firefighter walks between brush rigs as the the Carr Fire burns behind him, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
A CalFire firefighter douses flames on a burning home during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. - 'Two firefighters have been killed in the Carr fire. A private contractor (operating) a bulldozer died yesterday and a Redding City firefighter was killed in the evening,' a spokesman for Calfire, the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told AFP. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Inmate fire crews cut a fire line during the evening as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Inmate fire crews cut a fire line during the evening as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
A charred statue is seen among the burned out remains of a residential neighborhood during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. Two firefighters have died and dozens of homes have burned as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter watches the flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S., July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S., July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Celia Corona rescues an injured cat in a burned residential neighborhood during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. Two firefighters have died and hundreds of homes have burned as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Keaton Brilz, 14, looks at his burned home with his family during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. Two firefighters have died and more than 100 homes have burned as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Wade Brilz looks at his burned home during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. Two firefighters have died and more than 100 homes have burned as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Firefighters monitor a backfire during the Carr fire in Redding, California on July 27, 2018. - One person has died and at least two others have been injured as wind-whipped flames tore through the region. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
REDDING, CA - JULY 27: A home burns along Sunflower Road during the Carr Fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. A firefighter was killed battling the fast moving Carr Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. The fire is reportedly only 6 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Fire fighters battle the Carr Fire west of Redding, California, U.S. July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
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It has swelled to become larger than the deadly Carr Fire, about 100 miles (160 km) to the northeast, which has killed at least six people and destroyed more than 1,500 homes, businesses and other structures.

Firefighters have managed to contain 41 percent of that blaze and authorities are allowing some people who had evacuated to return, Cal Fire said.

Both areas remained under a "red flag warning" issued by the National Weather Service for strong winds, low relative humidity and temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), all conditions that can drive the growth of wildfires.

RELATED: California wildfires 2018

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California wildfires 2018
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California wildfires 2018
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
REDDING, CA - JULY 27: A firefighter uses a drip torch to light a backfire while battling the larger Carr Fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. A firefighter was killed battling the fast moving Carr Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. The fire is reportedly only 6 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDDING, CA - JULY 27: A firefighter monitors a backfire while battling the larger Carr Fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. A firefighter was killed battling the fast moving Carr Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. The fire is reportedly only 6 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
REDDING, CA - JULY 27: Firefighters monitor a backfire while battling the larger Carr Fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. A firefighter was killed battling the fast moving Carr Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. The fire is reportedly only 6 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A firefighter watches flames advance up a hill towards homes as crews battle the Carr Fire, west of Redding, California, U.S. July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
REDDING, CA - JULY 27: An orange glow from the Carr Fire lights up burnt trees as the fire burns through dry brush on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. A firefighter was killed battling the fast moving Carr Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. The fire is reportedly only 6 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Santa Barbara County Firefighter spray water on flames at a home at the site of a wildfire in Goleta, California, U.S., July 6, 2018 in this image released on social media. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Santa Barbara County Firefighter spray water on flames at a home at the site of a wildfire in Goleta, California, U.S., July 6, 2018 in this image released on social media. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
GOLETA, CA - JULY 07: Firefighters spray foam on the remains of a destroyed home in the aftermath of the Holiday Fire on July 7, 2018 in Goleta, California. The fire destroyed a number of homes in the community during an intense heat wave which broke various records across Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Wildfire destroy homes in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Wildfire destroy homes in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Embers from a burning home rises up in the air after a wildfire sweeps through Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Wildfire destroy homes in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Firefighters work to contain a structure fire as wildfire spreads along North Fairview Ave, in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: A firefighter waits for water to be pumped before he can begin working to contain a structure fire as wildfire spreads along North Fairview Ave, in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
GOLETA, CA - JULY 7: Firefighters work to contain a structure fire as wildfire spreads along North Fairview Ave, in Goleta, Calif., on July 7, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Hot Shot crews from Mendocino, Calif., use backfires to help contain the County fire along Highway 129 near Lake Berryessa in Yolo County, Calif., on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. (Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee/TN)
Hot Shot crews from Mendocino, Calif., use backfires to help contain the County fire along Highway 129 near Lake Berryessa in Yolo County, Calif., on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. (Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee/TN)
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This year's California wildfire season has been more destructive than in years past, burning about 290,000 acres (117,300 hectares), more than double the five-year average over that same period, according to Cal Fire.

In total, 14 states are currently reporting large fires. Most are in other western states but wildfires have also struck Texas and Florida, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

So far this year, fires have blackened 4.9 million acres throughout the United States, significantly higher than the 10-year average, according to the center. (Reporting by Makini Brice Editing by Tom Brown)

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