WEED, Calif. (AP) — A fast-moving fire in northern California injured several people, a fire official said, and destroyed several homes on Friday as thousands of residents were forced out immediately, blocking roads at the start of a sweltering Labor Day. weekend.
The Northern California blaze destroyed several homes on Friday and forced up to 7,500 residents to leave immediately, blocking roads at the start of a sweltering Labor Day weekend. Suzi Brady, a Cal Fire spokeswoman, said several people were injured and taken to hospitals. She said she did not know the extent of their injuries.
Brady said residents were still evacuating and the fire continued to spread rapidly amid 36 mph (58 kph) winds.
She said more resources had been requested to help at least 200 firefighters battling the blaze on the ground and from the air.
Brady did not know how many people were injured or where they were taken.
The factory fire erupted on the property of Roseburg Forest Products, a sawmill north of the town of Weed, and quickly burned homes and prompted evacuation orders for all of Weed and the neighboring communities of Lake Shastina and Edgewood, with a combined population of about 7,500 people, Weed Councilwoman Sue Tavalero said.
She said there were homes burned in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood but “I don’t know how many. I am certain that several houses were lost.
The fire spread quickly in hot and windy conditions, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. The factory fire had burned 1.4 square miles (3.6 square kilometers), according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Rebecca Taylor, director of communications for Roseburg Forest Products based in Springfield, Oregon, said she didn’t know where or how the fire started, but the company evacuated its veneer plant in Weed after the fire broke out. was reported at 12:58 p.m. Friday. Some of his possessions are set on fire. The plant employs 145 people, although not all of them were on duty at the time, Taylor said.
“We are just devastated to see this fire affect the community in this way,” she said.
Evacuees described thick smoke and chunks of ash falling from massive flames near Weed, about 80 miles south of the Oregon border.
Christopher Rock, a worker at the Mayten store in Montague, 30 miles north of Weed, said evacuees swarmed the pumps.
“It’s very busy right now,” he said. “You can’t see the flames from here, just lots of smoke.”
Marco Noriega, brewmaster at Mount Shasta Brewing Company, said he received the evacuation notice around 1 p.m. and fired all 10 customers and three employees. He said the power was out and he received little information.
The wind was blowing from the south, blowing the fire away. He looked calm as he cleaned.
“I’ve experienced it before, as long as the wind stays in its direction, it’s fine. But I know the tide is turning fast,” he said by phone.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for Siskiyou County from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday when winds in the area were expected to reach up to 31 mph (50 kph).
Willo Balfrey, 82, an artist from Lake Shastina, said she was painting Friday afternoon when her grandson, a member of the California Highway Patrol, called to warn her of the rapidly spreading flames.
“He said, ‘don’t linger, get your computer, get what you need and get out of the house now. He comes to you. So I did,” Balfrey told The Associated Press.
She grabbed a suitcase full of important documents, along with water and her computer, iPhone, and chargers, and headed for the door.
“I’ve reached the philosophy that if I have all my papers, what’s in the house isn’t that important,” she said.
She stopped to look for her neighbor and they drove to a church parking lot in Montague, where about 40 other vehicles were also parked.
Olga Hood heard about the fire on her scanner and climbed onto the porch of her house in Weed to see smoke billowing over the nearby hill.
With the notorious gusts tearing through the city at the foot of Mount Shasta, she didn’t wait for an evacuation order. She packed her documents, her medication and little else, her granddaughter, Cynthia Jones, said.
“With the wind in Weed, all that stuff is moving fast. It’s bad,” Jones said by phone from his home in Medford, Oregon. “It’s not uncommon to get gusts of 50-60mph on a normal day. I got blown into a stream when I was a kid.
Hood’s nearly three-decade-old home was spared a fire last year and the devastating Boles Fire that tore through the town eight years ago, destroying more than 160 buildings, mostly homes.
Hood cried while discussing the fire at a relative’s house in the hamlet of Granada, Jones said. She was unable to collect photos that had been important to her late husband.
In Southern California, firefighters were making progress Friday against two large wildfires despite dangerously hot weather.
Containment of the road fire along Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles has increased to 37% and remained at just over 8 square miles (21 square kilometers), according to a Cal Fire statement. .
California is in the throes of a prolonged heat wave. Temperatures have been so high that residents have been asked for three consecutive days to save energy in the late afternoon and evening when solar power wanes.
On Wednesday, seven firefighters working on the Route Fire in triple-digit temperatures had to be transported to hospitals for treatment of heat-related illnesses. All were released.
The tally of destroyed structures remained at two and all evacuation orders were lifted.
In eastern San Diego County, the Border 32 Fire remained at just under 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) and containment increased to 20%.
More than 1,500 people had to evacuate the area near the US-Mexico border when the fire broke out on Wednesday. All evacuations were lifted Friday afternoon.
Two people were hospitalized with burns. Three houses and seven other buildings were destroyed.
Scientists say climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
This story has been corrected to show that Tavalero is a councilwoman, not a mayor, and that Noriega was ordered to evacuate around 1 p.m., not 2 p.m.
Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez and Janie Har in San Francisco and Stefanie Dazio and Brian Melley in Los Angeles contributed to this story.