A windswept wildfire in rural northern California ripped through a neighborhood and destroyed about 100 homes and other buildings, fire officials said Saturday after at least two people were injured and thousands have been forced from their homes.
The mill fire began shortly before 1 p.m. Friday just north of Weed, a town of about 2,600 people 402 kilometers north of San Francisco. Flames rushed through the Lincoln Heights neighborhood where a significant number of homes burned 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 burn unit.
Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit Chief Phil Anzo said crews were working all day and night to protect structures in Weed and an eastern subdivision known as Carrick Addition.
“There’s a lot at stake on this Mill Fire,” he said. “There are a lot of communities, a lot of homes there.”
Weather conditions improved overnight and firefighters were able to achieve 20% containment, but another blaze, the Mountain Fire, which broke out northwest of Weed on Friday, grew significantly. No injuries or buildings were reported as lost in this fire. The causes of both fires were under investigation.
Anzo estimated that around 100 homes 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 put out the fire.”
California is in a deep drought as it heads into what is traditionally the worst of the fire season. 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. Weed has experienced three major fires since 2014.
The factory fire started at or near Roseburg Forest Products, which manufactures wood products. Evacuation orders were quickly put into effect for 7,500 people.