A wildfire that broke out in Northern California Monday afternoon has damaged or destroyed more than 100 structures, forced at least 1,500 residents to evacuate and led to the shutdown of two highways, fire officials said.
The 350-acre fire broke out about 1:30 p.m. south of the town of Weed, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The flames were fueled by 40 mph winds and dry conditions.
"With the incredible gust of winds, 40 mph, the fire was able to rage right into the community before we were able to get fire equipment into the scene," Berlant said. "The fire was starting ahead of itself; the embers thrown ahead touched the brush and structures."
The blaze, dubbed the Boles Fire, also led to the closure of Interstate 5 and U.S. 97. Weed is in Siskiyou County, about 50 miles south of the California-Oregon border.
Hundreds of firefighters were battling the flames, Berlant said. About 1,500 to 2,000 residents were being evacuated to the Siskiyou County fairgrounds.
The fire was 15% at about 8:45 p.m., fire officials said.
The cause of the blaze was still under investigation, Berlant said.
Weed 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.