Deadly Zogg fire remains out of control; reinforcements called in
A deadly wildfire continued to carve a destructive path through Northern California’s Shasta County, swelling to more than 40,000 acres Tuesday.
The fast-moving Zogg fire — which started Sunday afternoon near the rural community of Igo, about nine miles southwest of Redding — has already been blamed for three deaths, destroyed 146 structures and prompted numerous evacuations in the area.
The blaze is still threatening more than 1,500 structures, fire officials said Tuesday morning.
“Light winds, high temperatures, low humidities and a lack of resources will continue to challenge firefighters today,” officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection wrote in an incident report. “Firefighters will continue to focus on structure defense and increasing containment lines.”
Officials said Tuesday that reinforcements were being deployed to the scene, bolstering the arsenal available to stymie the blaze.
“We’ve had crews that are still on the line from when the fire started on Sunday,” said Sean Kavanaugh, a Cal Fire incident commander. “They’re in their third day out there; we’re trying to get those folks back in [for a break]. We do have resources that are coming from across the state to come help us.”
Issac Sanchez, a Cal Fire spokesman, said helicopters were dropping water and planes were dumping retardant on the fire.
A thick layer of smoke or clouds — he wasn’t sure which — was helping keep temperatures down, he said.
“The conditions are more favorable than they were two days ago and even from yesterday, but it is still warm, and the fire is still growing at this point,” Sanchez said.
The fire remained uncontained Tuesday morning.
Details about the three people who died in the fire — including their names, ages and where they were found — have yet to be released. Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini said Monday that authorities were working to identify the victims and notify their families.
The Shasta County coroner declined to provide details about the victims. A man who answered the telephone at the coroner’s office told a reporter to call back Wednesday and hung up. Cal Fire said it had no information about the fatalities.
Thousands of people are under evacuation orders as multiple fires burn unchecked in Napa, Sonoma and Shasta counties.
Deputies have evacuated 466 homes in the communities of Igo and Ono, displacing about 1,250 people, the sheriff said.
Magrini urged residents to heed orders to evacuate, noting that with this fast-moving blaze, “we’re not issuing warnings.”
Kavanaugh said deciding whether to order people to leave their homes was always a tough call, but “it’s a necessary evil that we have to do” when residents are potentially in harm’s way.
Cal Fire’s Shasta-Trinity Unit Chief Bret Gouvea called the fire “another tragedy here in Shasta County that we’re all too familiar with.”
It was only a little more than two years ago that the Carr fire swept through the area in and around Redding, ultimately charring 229,651 acres, killing eight people and consuming 1,614 structures.
“We have faced these tragedies in this county before,” Gouvea said during a briefing Monday. “One thing I know about Shasta County is it’s very resilient. Two years ago, this county dealt with massive loss, and I saw — from [fire] suppression all the way through recovery — the communities come together and quickly recover from these devastating incidents. We will be here until the end, and this county will recover from this.”
The sheer scope and scale of this year’s punishing fire season, however, has strained resources statewide — presenting another challenge for frontline firefighters.
The Zogg fire is one of more than two dozen major wildfires burning throughout California. Over 18,700 firefighters have been deployed to battle those blazes, according to Cal Fire.
Kavanaugh said he was hopeful that the arrival of additional personnel and equipment — as well as more cooperative weather — would boost the firefight.
“We’re starting to get a foothold, though. We’re starting to get the resources in,” he said. “That’s important, and we’ll see how we do the rest of the week.”
The red flag conditions that persisted across much of Northern California over the weekend and Monday have vanished. However, “although gusty winds have dissipated, strong high pressure continues to keep temperatures above normal across much of the inland areas of California,” Cal Fire officials wrote in a statewide situation report Tuesday.
“With no significant precipitation in sight,” they warned, “California remains dry and ripe for wildfires.”
Fire season in California looks different these days. Temperatures are hotter. Fires are bigger and more destructive. Air quality is the worst in decades.
In recent days, dry and windy conditions helped fan the Zogg fire — as well as the Glass fire in Northern California’s wine country — and further fueled some of the major wildfires already burning statewide.
Among them is the behemoth August Complex fire, which grew by nearly 60,000 acres from Monday to Tuesday.
That fire — burning in and around the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers national forests, farther southwest of Redding — dwarfs all others on record in California.
At roughly 938,000 acres, it’s more than twice as large as any fire in the state’s modern history.
Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the fire was driven Monday “specifically to the west and even to the southwest by those gusty winds.”
“Firefighters worked in extremely difficult terrain performing structure defense and constructing both indirect and direct containment lines,” he said in a video briefing Tuesday. “Overnight, the fire was extremely active ... making uphill, terrain-driven runs.”
The overall fire is 43% contained.
Dangerous fire weather persisted in other parts of the state Tuesday — with hot, dry conditions fueling large blazes and small brush fires across Los Angeles County.
The Martindale fire broke out in the Bouquet Canyon area of the Santa Clarita Valley on Monday afternoon and jumped to more than 200 acres in less than 30 minutes, according to the U.S. Forest Service. As of Tuesday morning, the blaze was 40% contained, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Bobcat fire continues to burn in the Angeles National Forest. It has scorched more than 114,000 acres and is 62% contained.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the Los Angeles and Ventura county mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley.
More than 8,100 wildfires have been recorded in California just this year, burning in excess of 3.8 million acres.
The collective death toll from the historic firestorm now stands at 29. More than 7,000 structures have been destroyed.
On Tuesday morning, the Sacramento airport was packed with hundreds of firefighters from across the country on their way in under mutual-aid agreements, highlighting how dependent California is on outside help with resources stretched thin.
“We’re dealing with some pretty extreme times in this state,” Gouvea said. “I think anybody can see that fire behavior, fire starts and the potential for large fire growth, the damaging fires, is prevalent. It’s historic times.”
Dolan reported from Orinda, and Money and Ormseth reported from Los Angeles.
Times staff writers Hayley Smith in Los Angeles and Anita Chabria in Sacramento contributed to this report.
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