Wildfire in Northern California grows to 13,000 acres with 17% containment

Fire crews battle the Pawnee wildfire near Cache Creek Road in Spring Valley, where hundreds of residents have been forced to flee.
(Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Associated Press)

A wildfire threatening hundreds of homes in Lake County grew even larger overnight, as high temperatures and breezy conditions continued to stoke the blaze.

The Pawnee fire grew to 13,000 acres and was 17% contained late Tuesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. On Monday evening, Cal Fire reported having 237 firefighters on hand to fight the blaze. On Tuesday morning, that number spiked to 1,422.

Crews are working to contain flames spreading northeast of Clearlake Oaks, where hundreds of residents have been told to leave their homes. The entire community in Spring Valley is also under an evacuation order.


Officials say at least 600 structures, many of them homes, are under threat. Already, 22 buildings have been destroyed and four others damaged, Cal Fire said.

The Pawnee fire started late Saturday afternoon northeast of Clearlake Oaks and has been pushed northeast by winds that are sending it into drought-stricken grass, oak and chaparral, Cal Fire officials said.

By Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown had declared a state of emergency. The declaration helps free resources and enables the county to recover some of the costs of fighting the blaze.

Lake County has been repeatedly hit by fires in recent years. More than 150 homes were destroyed in October when multiple brush fires broke out in Northern California’s wine country and communities to the north.

In 2015, more than 500 homes were destroyed in the Valley fire, which injured four firefighters and burned 76,000 acres.


On Sunday, the state Office of Emergency Services announced it has secured federal dollars to help pull in additional resources to fight the Pawnee fire as needed. Ten water-dropping helicopters are also battling the fire.

Sheriff’s officials reminded residents who are evacuating to pack pets, phones and computers, prescriptions, photos and paperwork and urged them to close their doors and windows before leaving. A shelter was opened at Lower Lake High School at 9430 Lake St.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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9:50 p.m.: This article was updated with new acreage and containment figures.

This article was originally published at 11:50 a.m.