Increased humidity and light overnight winds helped firefighters slow the growth of a brush fire that exploded in Shasta County a day earlier, forcing evacuations and destroying three homes, officials said Friday.
The Mountain fire began shortly after 11 a.m. in Bella Vista, about 10 miles northeast of Redding, and quickly spread across dense terrain, chewing through 600 acres by the evening. At one point, the fast-moving blaze doubled in size in less than an hour amid triple-digit temperatures and gusty winds.
But hundreds of firefighters working overnight were able to stop the fire’s spread and increase containment to 40%, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“We had really strong winds early on, but those died down later in the day and conditions became a lot more favorable,” said Cheryl Buliavac, a Cal Fire public information officer. “They were able to substantially slow the forward movement of the fire.”
The speed of the fire, which threatened more than 1,000 homes Thursday, forced officials to close roads and issue mandatory evacuation orders for about 3,885 residents. One structure was damaged in addition to the three homes that burned, according to fire officials.
Shasta College’s campus was evacuated and classes were canceled through Friday, according to the college.
Evacuation orders and most local road closures remained in effect Friday morning, Cal Fire said.
Winds in the region were expected to shift to the south Friday and not be as strong as those that whipped through the region a day earlier. Temperatures over 100 degrees — about 10 degrees above normal for the area — still could pose a challenge for crews, according to the National Weather Service.
Buliavac said the north side of the fire presents the biggest challenge because of the possibility of increased southern winds and the area’s steep, rugged terrain.
The fire’s footprint does not overlap with the burn scars from any of the large blazes that struck Shasta County last year.
The Carr fire started July 23, 2018, and burned almost 230,000 acres in Shasta and Trinity counties. The two counties saw further damage when the Delta fire started Sept. 5 and burned more than 63,000 acres.