Thousands of firefighters on Sunday continued to battle 14 large wildfires -- most sparked by lightning strikes -- in northern and central California that combined were burning more than 117,000 acres Sunday, officials said.
The Eiler and Bald fires in Shasta County have been burning particularly aggressively, said Dennis Mathisen, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Combined, the two fires have more than quadrupled in size since Saturday morning.
The Eiler fire, which covered 22,788 acres and was not at all contained, destroyed eight residences and on Sunday led to the evacuation of a hospital’s long-term care facility. Mayers Memorial Hospital District’s facility in the town of Burney chose to move its 45 residents -- patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other similar conditions -- to Redding, about 50 miles away, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The Eiler fire also prompted evacuation orders for the communities of Johnson Park, Cassel and Big Eddie Estates and led to the closure of a stretch of State Route 89.
The Bald fire, covering 34,832 acres and fueled by 6-foot-tall chaparral, was 5% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The Coffee fire, covering 2,000 acres, also was 5% contained.
Meanwhile, a blaze that started in Oregon kept pushing south into California. The Oregon Gulch fire ballooned to more than 32,000 acres, with 9,100 acres of it in the Golden State. Mandatory evactuations were affecting about 30 residents on the California side, officials said.
Also in Siskiyou County, the July Complex fire -- consisting of the Whites, Log, and Leef fires -- in the Klamath National Forest area grew to 5,523 acres and was not at all contained. The Beaver fire grew to 7,001 acres and was 1% contained. And the Little Deer fire grew to 4,000 acres and was 21% contained.
Firefighters made progress on the Day fire in Modoc County, California’s northeasternmost region. The 12,850-acre blaze -- which Cal Fire spokesman Richard Cordova said threatened 150 homes and destroyed five structures -- grew only a little bit and was 25% contained.
In Mendocino County, the Lodge Lightning Complex fire grew to 2,200 acres and was 10% contained. Steep, rugged terrain was posing a challenge to firefighters, officials said.
In Yosemite National Park, the El Portal fire grew slightly to 4,689 acres, and containment rose to 89%.
South of there, in the Sierra National Forest, the French fire grew to 12,827 acres, and firefighers achieved 20% containment. That fire was caused by an abandoned campfire toward the bottom of Rock Creek Road near the San Joaquin River, the U.S. Forest Service said. Investigators are asking the public for help: Anyone with information about anybody seen in that area the afternoon or evening of July 27 is encouraged to call (559) 877-2605.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Saturday because of the effects of the fires.
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