California fires destroy structures and force residents to flee


HEMET, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters struggled Thursday to bring California’s major wildfires under control as they grew explosively and forced widespread evacuations amid a scorching heat wave.

The deadly and destructive Fairview Fire in Southern California spread in two directions on Wednesday, covering more than 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) of Riverside County. It was only 5% contained.

In the Sierra Nevada, the Mosquito Fire had burned nearly 9 square miles (23 square kilometers), forcing evacuations in Placer and El Dorado counties.

« As you’ve seen with the rising column of smoke, this fire continues to give us a hard time, » Cal Fire Division Chief Mike Rufenacht said during a video briefing.

Another dangerous fire has burned near the Big Bear Lake resort area in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. It was only 2% contained after burning nearly 2 square miles (5 square kilometers).

The prolonged heat wave was expected to end abruptly, at least in Southern California, by the weekend as the remnants of the current Hurricane Kay arrive, bringing rain. Kay was off southern Baja California early Thursday, but showers and thunderstorms associated with the hurricane were already reaching southern California.

The Fairview Fire erupted Monday amid triple-digit heat and spread rapidly, killing two people found in a vehicle, severely burning another person while destroying seven structures and damaging several others.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Southern California Edison notified the California Public Utilities Commission that « circuit activity » occurred shortly after the fire was reported, the Los Angeles Times said. The activity was not specified.

The Mosquito Fire burned several structures and at least 10 cars near the gold rush-era community of Michigan Bluff about an hour northwest of Sacramento.

Near the Oregon border, the Mountain Fire covered more than 18 square miles (47 square kilometers) of rural Siskiyou County and was 30% contained. It started on September 2.

Meanwhile, a wood products company said on Wednesday it was investigating whether a fire that killed two people as it swept through the northern California town of Weed was caused by the outage. possible of a water spray machine used to cool the ashes in his veneer factory.

Roseburg Forest Products Co. also announced that while the investigation is not complete, it plans to provide up to $50 million for a community restoration fund.

The factory fire erupted Sept. 2 at the company’s facility in Weed on Interstate 5, about 280 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Roseburg Forest Products said in a press release that its plant generates its own electricity in a cogeneration facility fueled by leftover wood, and the ejected ash is sprayed with cooling water by a « machine provided by a third party. » .

« Roseburg is investigating whether the third-party machine did not cool the ashes sufficiently, thereby starting the fire, » the statement said.

Hundreds of people fled Weed as the fire spread, destroying 107 structures and damaging 26 others. The fire eventually grew to over 6 square miles (15.5 square km). The fire was 65% contained on Wednesday, with minimal activity.

Roseburg said her fund will help residents with temporary shelter, medical supplies and treatment, transportation, clothing, food and water, and child care.

The Associated Press


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