USA TODAY US Edition
N. California fires force thousands to flee homes
One blaze still out of control as Gov. Jerry Brown declares state of emergency.
Two fast-moving fires scorched tens of thousands of acres in Northern California on Sunday, forcing thousands to flee their homes and injuring firefighters struggling to contain the flames.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Lake and Napa counties after the Valley Fire, which started Saturday afternoon northwest of Sacramento, continued to grow. That fire had burned at least 50,000 acres — about 78 square miles — as of Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire.
“The Valley Fire is currently burning out of control,” said the Lake County Sheriff ’s Department in an alert sent out to residents Sunday ordering mandatory evacuations in the communities of Clearlake Riviera and Riviera West. Residents were instructed to gather their pets, medications and important papers.
More than 17,000 people as of Sunday afternoon had been forced from their homes, and more than 9,000 structures were threatened, reported KXTV.
An unconfirmed number of structures were destroyed. The cause of the Valley Fire, which started near the community of Cobb, is under investigation. Four firefighters suffered second degree burns while fighting the blaze on Saturday and were in stable condition, said CalFire’s chief public information officer Daniel Berlant in a briefing Sunday afternoon on Periscope.
“This has been a very destructive fire,” Berlant said, noting that the towns of Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake have been hard hit by the fire, which has pushed to the southeast near the border of Lake and Napa counties. Windblown embers and ashes have resulted in 40,000 acres of droughtparched brush and trees burning in less than 12 hours, he said.
Meanwhile firefighters were making some progress combating the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties. As of Sunday it was about 25% contained and covered 65,300 acres, or an area of about 100 square miles, according to CalFire. It had destroyed at least 86 homes and 51 outbuildings so far. Brown on Friday declared a state of emergency for Amador and Calaveras.
Berlant said the fires are sending large columns of smoke into the atmosphere, which is drifting across the state.