Northern California wildfire destroys multiple homes and forces as many as 7,500 residents to leave immediately, jamming roadways at the start of a sweltering Labor Day weekend.
A fast-moving fire in northern California has destroyed multiple homes, injured “several people” and forced thousands of residents to leave immediately, jamming roadways at the start of a sweltering Labor Day weekend.
The Mill Fire started on the property of Roseburg Forest Products, a lumber mill north of the town of Weed, and quickly burned through homes in the nearby neighbourhood of Lincoln Heights and prompted evacuation orders for thousands of people, said Weed councilwoman Sue Tavalero on Friday.
She said there were burned homes in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood but “I don’t know how many. I’m positive several homes have been lost.”
Suzi Brady, a Cal Fire spokesperson, said several people were injured and taken to a hospital. She said she didn’t know the extent of their injuries.
Brady said residents are still evacuating and that the blaze continues to rapidly spread amid 58 kph winds.
She said more resources have been requested to aid at least 200 firefighters battling the blaze on the ground and from the air.
Residents of the towns of Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood were ordered to evacuate after the blaze spread quickly in hot and windy conditions, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Tavalero said the evacuation orders for all of Weed and nearby areas of Lake Shastina and Edgewood covered a combined population of about 7,500 people.
The Mill Fire had burned 3.6 square kilometres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Progress in south California
In southern California, firefighters were making progress on Friday against two big wildfires despite dangerously hot weather.
Containment of the Route Fire along Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles increased to 37 percent and it remained at just over 21 square kilometres in size, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection statement said.
Firefighters were focusing on mopping up hotspots and building more containment lines, trying to get most of the hard work done before the midday heat, Cal Fire said.
California is in the grip of a prolonged heatwave.
Temperatures have been so high that residents have been asked for three consecutive days to conserve power during late afternoon and evening hours when solar energy declines.
On Wednesday, seven firefighters working the Route Fire in triple-digit temperatures had to be taken to hospitals for treatment of heat illnesses. All were released.
“Excessive heat, low humidity and steep terrain will continue to pose the biggest challenge for firefighters,” Cal Fire said.
Scientists say the climate crisis has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.