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A Redding, California, Hot Shot firefighter, monitors the burning of lower vegetation to contain the oncoming fire in Mendocino National Forest, California. Cecilio Ricardo / Forest Service, USDA

A Northern California fire chief said in a court filing (pdf) Monday that during its efforts in battling the Mendocino Complex Firethe largest in state history—that one of the department's trucks, equipped with Verizon wireless service, had its connection speeds significantly slowed and made communication effectively impossible.

"This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services," Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration, first reported by Ars Technica on Tuesday.

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California fire inmate crewman sprays down a hotspot at the Rim Fire on Sept. 3, 2013. U.S. Forest Service photo by Mike McMillan

As California faces record-breaking blazes across the state, its Department of Corrections tweeted this week that more than 2,000 inmates are working as firefighters, prompting new debate over this aspect of prison labor.

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Firefighters continue to battle the unprecedented wildfires ravaging Northern California.

As of Wednesday, the fast-moving blazes—aided by high winds and low humidity—have burned nearly 170,000 acres and destroyed at least 3,500 homes and commercial structures since the outbreak started Sunday.

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