Crews are fighting several wildfires crawling closer to Los Angeles, perhaps a foreshadowing of the approaching fire season, as most of the state remains stuck in dangerous heat and bone-dry conditions.
The biggest of the fires, the lightning-sparked Lava fire in Siskiyou County, caused at least 8,000 people to flee their homes Monday afternoon as breezy red flag conditions fanned the raging flames. Experts warn that L.A. may be next.
Officials with the local Shasta-Trinity National Forest reported the fire had grown almost tenfold to 13,300 acres by Tuesday morning. The fire was 19% controlled by nightfall, and the National Weather Service warned that smoke from the region may reach Medford, Oregon.
Michelle Carbonaro, a spokeswoman for the fire’s unified command team, said Monday that the fire “made significant runs,” with the northern border seeing the greatest expansion.
She claimed around 470 people were fighting the fire from the air and on the ground, with teams working 24-hour shifts.
Reporters caught footage of firemen working late into the night along Highway 97 in Weed, as surrounding brush and trees split and sizzled in the flames.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders for the Lake Shastina and Juniper Valley regions on Tuesday, and they remained in force. Crews were targeting the southern and western borders of the fire, which are closer to the settlements, according to Carbonaro.
In Yreka, the Red Cross has set up an evacuation shelter at Jackson Street School.
Highway 97 was also blocked between Weed and the Juniper Lodge, a 30-mile stretch.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a fire officer from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest apologized to locals at a town hall meeting on Monday for workers leaving the fire site on Friday when it was no longer considered a danger.
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s Adrienne Freeman told The New York Times that authorities had not been able to detect any additional heat after spraying thousands of gallons of water on the fire and had “no indication to continue suppression actions.”
However, the fire reignited soon after, ultimately expanding to over 13,000 acres.
She said, “It does happen.” “It isn’t very common.”
The dangerously hot, dry weather is anticipated to improve as the week progresses, but workers had to deal with another day of challenging circumstances on Tuesday, according to Carbonaro.
“The area is experiencing the Pacific Northwest’s extreme heatwave,” Carbonaro added.
The Tennant fire, which started Monday evening and had expanded to 6,000 acres and was 0 percent controlled by Tuesday evening, was also burning in Siskiyou County, according to Kimberly DeVall, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service.
The Willow fire started on June 18 in the Los Padres National Forest. According to U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Lynn Olson, it was held constant at 2,877 acres and 87 percent containment as of Tuesday morning.