The raging lava fire in Northern California grew to over 17,000 acres by Wednesday morning, forcing thousands out of their homes and previewing the upcoming fire season.
Governor Gavin Newsom visited the crime scene Tuesday to brief President Biden of the critical fire threats and needs in California. The state has been devastated by worsening forest fires in recent years, with 2020 being the most destructive year on record.
It’s still early in the season, which in California peaks during the summer and fall. But extreme heat created the conditions for several fires that exploded this week.
The lava fire ignited by lightning in a fairly remote part of Siskiyou County forced the evacuation of at least 8,000 residents on Monday afternoon as gusty red flags fueled the flames.
The fire, which started on Friday, is 19% contained. According to the National Weather Service, smoke from the fire should drift as far as Medford, Oregon by Wednesday night. Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials said more than 900 workers were involved in the fire fighting.
Fire teams made progress on Tuesday in containing the north and west edges of the fire, but progress continued on the southeast edge as winds swept in from the north, according to a Wednesday morning update of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Most of the movements took place on the slope in the wood on the mountain. Shasta.
Dry conditions with southerly winds are expected to persist until mid-morning and switch to the northwest in the late afternoon, the update said.
According to the weather service, dangerously hot temperatures are expected at least until Thursday in central and eastern Siskiyou County and Modoc. .
“Record breaking heat in Northern California, a thunderstorm is brewing, and you have the recipe for the perfect storm,” said Raj Singh, public information officer for California Incident Management Team 14, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Firefighters focus on holding the north and west lines of fire to protect the Lake Shastina, Mount Shasta Vista, and Big Springs communities.
“We had plenty of resources for that yesterday. That was where the great threat to the communities up there was, ”said Singh.
Crews are also attacking the fire on the southern edge, Singh said.
There have been no civilian injuries since the fire department arrived on Monday, he said.
Firefighters face steep, rocky terrain, restricted road access, and limited water sources nearby, according to Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Due to the unpredictable weather, containment projections are not possible, Singh said. A single ember and a strong breeze could rekindle the whole flame, he said.
“Nature will test this line to make sure it holds,” he said.
A fire this size this early in summer is highly unusual, said Singh, and could predict a physically demanding time for firefighters and rescue workers. The fire season last year was grueling, he said.
“At the end of the season people were just exhausted,” he said.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that during a town hall meeting Monday, a Shasta-Trinity National Forest fire officer apologized to residents that the crews initially left the site of the fire on Friday when the fire was no longer perceived as a threat.
Adrienne Freeman, a spokeswoman for Shasta-Trinity National Forest, told the Times that after pouring thousands of liters of water into the fire, agency officials found no heat and “had no evidence to continue suppressive measures.” . “
But it re-ignited shortly afterwards and then exploded.
“It happens,” she said. “It’s not that common.”
Representatives from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed a man they said opened fire on them in a lava fire evacuation zone, authorities said.
Siskiyou County’s Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue told the Sacramento Bee that officials tried to prevent the man from entering the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision on Highway 97 north of Weed after it was evacuated Monday night due to the fire was.
Evacuation orders were issued by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office for Carrick Addition, Highway 97 from Weed to Deer Mountain Road, Lake Shastina, Rancho Hills, Juniper Valley, and Mt. Shasta Vista. Highway 97 remains closed according to Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Siskiyou County also battled the Tennant fire, which started Monday and had grown to 6,000 acres by Tuesday night and was 0% contained, according to Kimberly DeVall, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service.
By Tuesday evening, the Siskiyou District Sheriff’s Office had issued evacuation orders for Bray, East and West Ball Mountain Road, Old State Highway and Juanita Lake. There was also an evacuation warning for the Macdoel area, from Sheep Mountain Road in the north to Red Rock Road in the east, and for homes within a mile west of Macdoel.
The 118-acre Beswick Fire in Siskiyou County is 70% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blue fire at Blue Canyon started on Tuesday afternoon. It’s spreading at a moderate rate and has reached 400 acres, according to an incident update from the Sierra National Forest.
Despite initially optimistic forecasts, the wind turned on Tuesday evening and accelerated the spread of the fire. According to the Sierra National Forest, the area has a large number of dead trees caused by bark beetle infestation and years of drought.
Over 100 people are involved and that force will double, according to the Sierra National Forest. On Wednesday morning, the fire was 10% contained.
According to Alex Olow, a spokesman for the forest, the entire 10S02 road has been closed and evacuated.
The willow fire in the Los Padres National Forest lit on June 18. As of Tuesday morning, it held steady at 2,877 acres and 87% containment, said US Forest Service spokeswoman Lynn Olson.
The Shell fire, which began in Kern County on Sunday after a car caught fire on the roadside, is contained to 1,984 acres, 85%, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Peak Fire was also caused by a “single vehicle accident,” officials from the San Bernardino National Forest said on Twitter. The fire quickly spread to nearby vegetation, reaching around 35 acres on Monday before stopping around 2 p.m., forest officials said.
On Tuesday morning, the firefighters continued their work on clean-up and pipeline construction work. The fire was contained 50%.