Mill fire threatens communities in Siskiyou County

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A fire fueled by hot and windy conditions erupted near the small town of Weed in Siskiyou County on Friday, destroying homes and injuring civilians.

For memory :

8:26 p.m. September 2, 2022An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the McKinney fire killed two people and destroyed 132 structures. It killed four people and destroyed 185 structures.

7:56 p.m. September 2, 2022An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the name of the state fire agency as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. This is the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The factory fire – which erupted during an intense heat wave expected to last until early next week – had reached 2,580 acres around 6 p.m. and remained contained at 0%, said Suzi Brady , spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Siskiyou unit.

An unknown number of civilians were treated and transported to nearby facilities for fire-related injuries, Brady said. She did not know how many civilians were injured, how they were injured, or their condition Friday night. She also confirmed that an unknown number of houses had been destroyed.

Weed Mayor Kim Greene told The Times she was at a community center when the fire broke out at Roseburg Forest Products, a nearby sawmill.

The blaze quickly escalated. As the mayor exited, she could hear explosions coming from an area with plumes of black smoke. The fire quickly spread to a residential area.

Greene could not confirm how many homes were destroyed.

The mayor returned to the community center and told the few people present to evacuate. She left the area by car, stopping near Weed Airport to take pictures.

“I just felt like he was following me,” she said.

The factory fire continued to grow Friday evening as crews faced wind gusts of up to 36 mph and extremely dry fuel, Brady said. The brazier burned among the grasses, brush and wood.

Governor Gavin Newsom Friday night declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County due to the fire.

Residents of Weed remember the impact of the Boles Fire, which erupted on September 15, 2014, burning more than 500 acres and destroying 150 homes and other structures, the mayor said.

“Half our town burned down,” Greene said. “Everyone has been affected. We all still have a bit of PTSD because of it.

In Siskiyou County, already hard hit this year by the McKinney Fire near Yreka, residents know how to heed evacuation orders, she added.

Greene was at home Friday night, monitoring the progress of the fire. It appeared to be moving north, away from her location, she said. However, she was not taking any risks. The mayor told his neighbors to pack up and evacuate; she too was ready to leave at any moment.

“We are leaving a lot behind us,” she said. “The important things are in the vehicles. The trailer is hooked up.

The factory fire also forced evacuations in Shastina and Edgewood, according to Cal Fire. Students from Weed High School were evacuated by bus to Mount Shasta High School.

An evacuation shelter has been set up at the Kahtishraam Welfare Center in Yreka. Large animals are sent to the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka.

“We are doing exactly the same thing we did two weeks ago,” said Cliff Munson, who runs the fairgrounds, referring to the McKinney Fire in July, which burned more than 60,000 acres, killed four people and destroyed 185 structures.

Residents of Siskiyou County, still reeling from the blaze, sued PacifiCorp, a utility serving the area, alleging sparks from its high-voltage transmission lines and other equipment started the blaze.

As residents and workers left parts of Weed, which has a population of around 2,600, on Friday, most of the town was without power; Pacific Power, the utility company there, reported an outage around 1:30 p.m. affecting 7,625 homes and businesses.

The flames appeared to be digging into a large commercial structure near the mill in the northern part of town, according to footage on social media. The mill is adjacent to rows of single family homes.

“We are closing the building and trying to get away,” said a social services worker at the Shasta View Nursing Center, a few hundred yards from where the fire was burning. She and other staff had evacuated 25 long-term residents and rehabilitation patients.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Friday for the northern California region near Mount Shasta where the fire is burning, due to hot and dry conditions. Temperatures hovered at 94 degrees, with winds up to 35 mph.

The gusts died down Friday evening, but the fire was actively burning, Brady said.

Siskiyou County received another blow on Friday, as a new fire broke out to the northwest, between Yreka and Weed.

The Mountain Fire was first reported around 3:45 p.m. and had grown to at least 300 acres by Friday evening, Brady said. It was uncontained and burning in woods about a mile east of Gazelle Mountain, she said. Crews noted that the fire was crowning – lighting the treetops like torches, a sign of intense activity.

Evacuation orders were in place.

The causes of both fires are still under investigation, Brady said.

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