Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday declared a state of emergency due to the effects of several wildfires burning in central and northern California counties.
Thousands of acres have burned in El Dorado, Amador, Butte, Humboldt, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta and Siskiyou counties, which have been suffering from lightning strikes and high temperatures. Some homes have burned.
Evacuations have been ordered in some parts of the state in mostly rural areas.
“It’s exacerbated by the drought situation. We have extreme fire conditions,” said Dennis Mathisen, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “We’re seeing fire behavior we wouldn’t normally see until September.
“With warmer weather conditions, low humidity and some wind, and all you need is a spark, and a series of dry lightning strikes, and that’s a recipe for disaster,” Mathisen said.
One of the most serious blazes, the Day fire, was burning on California’s most northeastern region, Modoc County, where 150 residences were threatened in a three-day blaze that has charred 12,500 acres and is only 15% contained. Some areas have been evacuated.
To the west, the two-day old, 6,900-acre Oregon Gulch fire was moving into California’s Siskiyou County, home to Mount Shasta. Officials warned about heavy smoke impacting the Siskiyou County Fair in Yreka, and evacuations were called for homes east of the town of Copca. Another blaze elsewhere in the county, the Log fire, burned 350 acres in the Klamath National Forest area.
In that same forest, a trio of fires -- the Beaver, Little Deer, and July Complex -- burned nearly 7,000 acres, threatening homes along Beaver Creek Road, Highway 97, private timber forests and the Union Pacific Railroad, officials said. A lightning storm on Tuesday produced more than 955 lightning strikes, causing at least 26 fires that are now being fought.
To the south, in Shasta County, more than 12,000 acres have burned between the Bald, Coffee and Eiler fires, forcing evacuations for the community of Little Valley and an area known as Thousand Lakes Wilderness, forcing the closure of Highway 89, officials said.
In Mendocino County, the Lodge Lightning Complex fire near the town of Laytonville, along U.S. 101, burned through 902 acres and was only 20% contained.
Further south in California’s Gold Country, firefighters were gaining the upper hand on the week-old Sand Fire in El Dorado and Amador counties, which has destroyed 20 residences and 47 outbuildings. The 4,200-acre fire is 98% contained.
In Yosemite National Park, the 4,500-acre El Portal fire was 78% contained.
To the south, the 11,000-acre French fire in the Sierra National Forest, just 15% contained, was producing large amounts of smoke covering sections of the San Joaquin Valley. Residents in the community of Arnold Meadow were asked to evacuate.
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