WEED, Calif. (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire in rural northern California injured several people Friday, destroyed several homes and forced thousands of residents to flee, blocking roads at the start of a weekend. sweltering Labor Day end.
The blaze dubbed the Mill Fire started on or near the property of Roseburg Forest Products, a mill that manufactures wood veneer. It quickly scorched homes, driven by 35mph (56kph) winds, and by evening had engulfed 4 square miles (10.3 square kilometers) of land.
Annie Peterson said she was sitting on the porch of her home near the Roseburg facility when “all of a sudden we heard a big boom and all that smoke was coming our way.”
Very quickly his house and a dozen others caught fire. She said members of her church helped evacuate her and her son, who is immobile. She said the scene of smoke and flames felt like “the end of the world”.
Many places in the region were also without electricity. About 9,000 customers, many in Weed, were affected by power outages shortly before 1 p.m., according to power company PacifiCorp, which said they were due to the wildfire.
Suzi Brady, a Cal Fire spokeswoman, said several people were injured.
Allison Hendrickson, spokeswoman for Dignity Health North State Hospitals, said 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 burn unit.
Meanwhile, a second fire that broke out a few miles north of the mill fire near the community of Gazelle had scorched 600 acres (243 hectares) and prompted evacuations.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskyou County and said a federal grant had been received “to help ensure the availability of vital resources to put out the fire.”
California is in the grip of a prolonged drought and now a brutal heat wave that is straining the power grid as people try to stay cool. Residents were asked for three consecutive days to save electricity in the late afternoon and evening, when energy consumption is highest.
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. Over the past five years, California has experienced the largest and most destructive wildfires in state history.
Southern California saw two large fires break out earlier in the week. The final evacuation orders for these were lifted around the time the factory fire started at noon on Friday. The flames spread rapidly and around 7,500 people were under evacuation orders that covered the small town of Weed and surrounding areas, about 402 kilometers north of San Francisco.
Dr. Deborah Higer, medical director of Shasta View Nursing Center, said all 23 patients at the facility had been evacuated, with 20 going to local hospitals and three staying at her home, where hospital beds had been set up. .
Olga Hood heard about the fire on her scanner and climbed onto the porch of her Weed home 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.
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 said.
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.
Rebecca Taylor, director of communications for Springfield, Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products, said it was unclear whether the fire started near or on company property. A large empty building at the edge of the company’s property burned down, she said. All employees were evacuated and none reported injuries, she said.
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.
In southern California, firefighters were making progress on Friday against two large wildfires.
Containment of the highway fire along Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles has increased to 56% and remained at just over 8 square miles (21 square kilometers), according to a Cal Fire statement. . On Wednesday, seven firefighters working in triple-digit temperatures had to be transported to hospitals for treatment. All were released.
In eastern San Diego County, the Border 32 Fire remained at just under 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) and containment increased to 65%. 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.
Rodriguez reported from San Francisco, where Associated Press reporter Janie Har contributed. AP reporters Stefanie Dazio and Brian Melley in Los Angeles also contributed.
Adam Beam and Olga R. Rodriguez, Associated Press