On the first day of a hot Labor Day weekend, a fast-moving wildfire in rural Northern California injured three people, burned many homes, and prompted thousands more residents to evacuate.
This fire was dubbed the Mill Fire. The factory that makes wood veneers, Roseburg Forest Products, had a fire on the premises or nearby. Driven by gusts of up to 56 kilometers per hour (35 miles per hour), it soon destroyed numerous homes and covered an area of 4 square miles (10.3 square kilometers) by the end of the day.
Annie Peterson stated, “all of a sudden we heard a loud boom and all that smoke was just drifting over toward us” as she sat on her porch near the Roseburg complex.
Her house, along with a dozen or so others, caught fire rapidly. She and her son, who is wheelchair-bound, were able to get out safely thanks to the assistance of members of her church, she said. She remarked that the sight of smoke and flames made it appear as though “the world was ending.”
It seems like a lot of places around here lost power, too. Shortly before 1 p.m., electric power firm PacifiCorp reported that the blaze had caused power outages for almost 9,000 customers, many of them in Weed.
A Cal Fire representative named Suzi Brady has confirmed that multiple persons were hurt.
Dignity Health North State hospitals’ spokesperson Allison Hendrickson said two patients were transported to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta. The status of one was described as stable, while the other required transport to the burn unit at UC Davis Medical Center.
The second fire, which started a few miles north of the Mill Fire in the village of Gazelle, had burned 600 acres (243 hectares) by the time some people were forced to leave their homes.
After receiving a federal grant “to help ensure the availability of necessary resources to extinguish the fire,” Governor Gavin Newsom declared an emergency in Siskyou County.
The state of California has been hit by a blistering heat wave, adding to the strain on the electricity network caused by the state’s ongoing drought. The residents have been requested to reduce their energy consumption on the afternoons and evenings of the third, fourth, and fifth days in a row.
Climate change, according to scientists, has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more intense and wildfires more frequent and catastrophic. California has seen some of the largest and most catastrophic flames in the state’s history in the last five years.
Hood’s house of nearly 30 years survived both a fire last year and the disastrous Boles Fire that swept through town eight years ago, burning more than 160 buildings, the vast majority of which were residences.
Jones stated that Hood cried when she told the story of a relative’s home in the Granada hamlet being destroyed by fire. Photos that meant a lot to her late husband went uncollected.
Willo Balfrey, an 82-year-old artist from Lake Shastina, claimed her grandson, a member of the California Highway Patrol, called her on Friday afternoon to alert her of the rapidly expanding fires.
As he phrased it, “Don’t tarry; get up, pack your computer and essentials, and leave the house at once. Just wait for it; it’s on the way. “I figured I may as well,” Balfrey said.
She packed her computer, iPhone, and chargers into a suitcase and left the house.
The communications director for Roseburg Forest Products in Springfield, Oregon, Rebecca Taylor, indicated that it is unknown whether or not the fire began on or near company land. She reported that a large unoccupied building on the outside of the company property had caught fire. She confirmed that all personnel were safely evacuated, and that there were no injuries.
Taylor added that the plant had 145 employees, albeit not all of them were working at the time.
Seeing the fire have such a devastating impact on the neighborhood is heartbreaking, she said.
On Friday, firefighters in Southern California made some headway against two large wildfires.
A Cal Fire statement said that 56% of the Route Fire near Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles had been contained, maintaining an area of just over 8 square miles (21 square kilometers). Seven firefighters working in temperatures in the triple digits on Wednesday needed medical care for heat-related disorders. Everyone was set free.
The Border 32 Fire in eastern San Diego County has grown to consume over 18 square kilometers (less than 7 square miles), with 65% containment as of this writing. Wednesday’s fire along the U.S.-Mexico border forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people. By Friday afternoon, all areas had been declared safe to reoccupy.
There were two burn victims sent to the hospital. There were casualties in the form of three dwellings and seven other structures.