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California

Wildfire engulfs Northern California logging town as residents flee

Officials plan to send a damage assessment team to the Northern California community of Weed on Tuesday, where a wildfire destroyed or severely damaged more than 100 buildings, including a church and the town sawmill.

More than 1,500 residents were evacuated to the Siskiyou County fairgrounds as the Boles fire, last reported at 350 acres, tore through the town.

The fire broke out about 1:30 p.m. Monday near the town, which is about 50 miles south of the California-Oregon border. Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the flames were fueled by 40 mph winds and dry conditions.

“The fire was able to rage right into the community before we were able to get fire equipment into the scene,” he said. “Tomorrow we are deploying a damage assessment team to determine the exact damage done by the fire.”

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Evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Weed, Carrick and Lake Shastina, fire officials said.

The town’s Catholic church was destroyed by the blaze, according to the Associated Press. Fire officials said a sawmill that was heavily damaged will require extensive repairs.

More than 800 firefighters battled the blaze into the night. The fire was 15% contained by about 10 p.m. Monday, fire officials said.

The cause of the blaze was still under investigation, Berlant said.

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According to U.S. Census figures, nearly 3,000 people live in Weed, a historic mining town. The city was named after the founder of a lumber mill, Abner Weed, who discovered that the area’s strong winds were helpful in drying the sawed timber.

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