More than 5,000 people were evacuated from the city of Weed in Siskiyou County on Friday after a fast-moving wildfire erupted in the area, damaging numerous homes and sending several people to the hospital.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Suzi Brady reported that the Mill Fire had grown to 2,580 acres by Friday evening, as scorching heat swept through the West and triggered a red flag warning from the National Weather Service for much of the northern Sacramento Valley. Lake Shastina, which is located beyond Weed, has been ordered evacuated as the fire has been fanned by high winds and is now threatening the community.
The injured individuals were taken to a nearby hospital, Brady said. It was unclear to her how many people had been harmed or what extent their injuries were.
Bob Hall, a member of the Weed City Council, has stated that “we lost quite a few homes” in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. “The transmission was quite rapid.”
Residents of the area were nonetheless worried about the potential for harm, despite the fire’s move to the northwest, away from Weed. We have individuals on the opposite side of the wind, the councilman remarked. “There’s no heaven on the other side of the wind.”
At 6 o’clock there had been no word on whether or not the situation had been contained. The state of emergency in Siskiyou County was issued by Governor Gavin Newsom, who also revealed that California has received a federal emergency management agency grant to aid Cal Fire and other agencies in their battle against the Mill Fire.
There have been eight major fires in the far north of California this summer, with the McKinney Fire being the deadliest. The 60,000-acre fire that started in July in Siskiyou County, further west, spread to the Klamath National Forest, where it killed four people and destroyed 200 buildings.
About 70 miles to the southwest, in the rough hardwoods of Trinity and Humboldt counties, another wildfire, the Six Rivers Lightning Complex, has been blazing for almost a month now. Reports from the U.S. Forest Service indicated that they had managed to contain 64% of the blaze.
Weed’s mayor, Kim Greene, said the lumber mill that was severely damaged in the 2014 Boles Fire—Roseburg Forest Products—was a likely starting point for the mysterious Mill Fire. A representative for Roseburg confirmed that a portion of the company’s property was on fire but stated that authorities were unsure of the cause.
At 12:49 p.m., the fire was reported after Cal Fire cameras linked to the AlertWildfire Network captured a huge column of smoke 50 miles south of the Oregon border in the city of Weed, home to 2,600 people.
After the devastating fire eight years ago, the whole town of Weed was told to leave. Siskiyou County Zonehaven reports that numerous mandatory evacuations have been issued in the area. Areas to the west of I-5, to the south of Highway 97, to the east of Weed, and to the north of Siskiyou County Highway 12A are all part of the required zones.
To begin with, the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds (1712 Fairlane Road, Yreka) served as both a temporary evacuation shelter and a safe haven for the livestock and other large animals of the evacuees. The American Red Cross reports that the Karuk Tribe’s wellness center at 1403 Kahtishraam in Yreka has been set up as an evacuation site for people.
Visit https://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/animalcontrol/webform/fire-animal-welfare-check-request if you’d want the authorities to check on your pets or property.
By 2 p.m., residents of Lake Shastina, Big Springs, and the area north of Grenada along Interstate 5 were told to evacuate; by 3 p.m., the whole town of Carrick was told to flee. Cal Fire reported that buses brought Weed High School students to Mount Shasta High School.
After the Mill Fire started, six air tankers were redirected to the nearby Mountain Fire, which was burning west of Interstate 5 at the Gazelle Mountain region. Areas SIS-5203 and SIS-2337 were both issued mandatory evacuation orders due to the Mountain Fire.
At 6 o’clock in the evening, the Mountain Fire had already consumed some 300 acres of forest and was beginning to crown, according to the Cal Fire Siskiyou unit. The blaze 8 miles southeast of Gazelle was completely out of control.
According to Brady, a spokesperson for Cal Fire, the blaze had grown to around 300 acres by early evening and was tearing through a densely wooded area.
One dispatcher at the Mill Fire said, “We’ve got a disaster here.” We will strive to free some tankers, but for now this is our first priority.