300 Flee Wind-Whipped Blaze in Sierra

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Firefighters in California’s Gold Rush country struggled Monday to catch up with a wind-driven blaze that chased more than 300 people from their homes, and Oregon fire crews turned their attention to new fires started by lightning.

In the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada, more than 2,500 firefighters contained only 20% of a timber and brush fire that had covered more than 2,500 acres three miles east of the town of San Andreas, according to the California Department of Forestry.

Between 300 and 400 people had been told to evacuate their homes late Sunday, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department said.

The fire was being stoked through rugged terrain by dry wind blowing at more than 12 m.p.h. and temperatures above 100, said Forestry Department spokeswoman Kathy Villegas.


“The wind’s whipping,” Villegas said. “The last we heard was that it’s blowing up canyon toward major communities.”

Villegas said the fire was moving toward Mountain Ranch, one of several towns in the former gold mining region.

One minor injury was reported, but no buildings had burned in the area 50 miles southeast of Sacramento. The cause of the fire, reported Sunday afternoon, was not known.

Elsewhere in Northern California, firefighters mopped up after a blaze on 175 acres east of Clearlake, about 80 miles north of San Francisco. The fire, blamed on children playing with matches, briefly forced about 40 people to evacuate Sunday. A car and garage were burned.


In Sonoma County, fire crews controlled a 225-acre blaze early Monday evening in the Geysers area, about 70 miles north of San Francisco, fire officials said.

Fires in California have burned more than 19,000 acres this month, state and federal officials said.

In south-central Oregon, firefighters finished digging lines around two fires that had burned about 700 acres of timber in the Fremont National Forest near Lakeview.

The crews turned their attention Monday to central and northeastern Oregon, where lightning started several fires in the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests and on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.