WEED, Calif. (AP) — A wind-blown wildfire in rural Northern California ripped through a neighborhood, destroying about 100 homes and other buildings, firefighters said Saturday after at least two people were injured and thousands were forced from their homes. forced.
The mill fire started shortly before 1 p.m. Friday just north of Weed, a town of about 2,600 people 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of San Francisco. The flames engulfed the Lincoln Heights neighborhood, where a significant number of homes burned down and residents had to flee for their lives.
Two people were taken to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta. One was in stable condition and the other was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, which has a burns unit.
Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit Chief Phil Anzo said crews worked all day and night to protect structures in Weed and in an eastern subsection known as Carrick Addition.
“There’s a lot at stake with that Mill Fire,” he said. “There are a lot of communities, a lot of houses there.”
Weather conditions improved overnight and firefighters were able to get 20% containment, but another fire, the Mountain Fire, which broke out northwest of Weed on Friday, increased significantly. No injuries or buildings were lost in the fire. The causes of both fires were investigated.
Anzo estimated that about 100 houses and other buildings were lost in the mill fire. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County and said a federal grant had been received “to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire.”
Naomi Vogelsang, 46, may have lost her 10-year-old English bulldog, Bella, to the Mill Fire. Vogelsang said she was napping on a couch when a friend told her to leave immediately.
“Everything was black,” she said on Saturday. “Things exploded, you couldn’t see in front of your face.”
A firefighter picked her up and put her on a fire truck to get to safety, but her dog, who would turn 11 next month, wouldn’t follow. The houses around her were burned.
Vogelsang said she slept on a bench in Weed Friday night because she couldn’t get a lift to the evacuation center. On Saturday morning, she planned to go to a casino with the $20 she had left.
Her happiness couldn’t get much worse, she said.
“My dog was my everything,” she said. “I just feel like I’ve lost everything that mattered.”
California is in a deep drought as it moves into what has traditionally been the worst of the fire season. Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the past three decades, and the weather will continue to make more extremes and wildfires more frequent and devastating.
In the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most devastating fires in state history. Weed has seen three major fires since 2014.
The latest fire started at or near Roseburg Forest Products, which makes wood products. The evacuation orders quickly went into effect for 7,500 people.
Yvasha Hilliard said she was at home in Lincoln Heights when she heard “a big thump” and ran outside to see her neighbor’s house on fire.
“It was like fire came from the sky,” she said. “It was horrible.”
Hilliard said her house was one of those that burned down. “We’ve lost everything,” she says.
dr. Deborah Higer, medical director of the Shasta View Nursing Center, said all 23 patients in the facility had to be evacuated. Twenty went to local hospitals while three stayed in her own home, where hospital beds were set up.
Rebecca Taylor, communications director for Springfield, Oregon-based Roseburg, said a large vacant building on the edge of the company’s property burned down. All workers were evacuated and no one reported injuries, she said.
Around the time the fire broke out, power outages were reported affecting some 9,000 customers, and several thousand were without electricity until late into the night due to the wildfire, according to energy company PacifiCorp.
It was the third major wildfire in as many days in California, which is now scalding under a heat wave expected to push temperatures above 100 degrees in many areas until Labor Day.
Thousands were also ordered Wednesday to flee a fire in Castaic, north of Los Angeles, and a blaze in eastern San Diego County, near the Mexican border, where two people were badly burned and several homes destroyed. All evacuation orders were withdrawn on Friday.
The Mill Fire burned about an hour’s drive from the Oregon state line. It was only about 30 miles southeast of where the McKinney Fire — the deadliest of the year in the state — broke out in late July. It killed four people and destroyed dozens of homes.
Associated Press reporters Olga R. Rodriguez and Janie Har in San Francisco contributed.