A wildfire in the midst of a lingering heat wave gripping California has produced injuries, burned structures, and prompted mandatory evacuations in the state’s rural north Friday, officials said.
The Mill Fire spread to nearly 4,000 acres by Friday night, according to an update from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
In declaring a state of emergency for Siskiyou County, where the blaze raged, Gov. Gavin Newsom said late Friday the fire had caused an unspecified number of civilian injuries and interrupted electricity to some residents.
More than 9,000 residents of Siskiyou County were without power Friday night, according to PowerOutage.us.
As nightfall approached, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Courtney Kreider said the blaze had burned structures.
“The fire has exploded in size, burning several homes,” she tweeted.
Cal Fire spokesperson Robert Foxworthy confirmed structures had burned to the ground, but he was unable to provide a count. “I saw them,” he said.
Firefighters working into the night had no containment to report, Cal Fire said.
Newsom said in a statement late Friday that his emergency declaration would ensure firefighting resources were available for the county. He said he has secured a fire-related grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The wildfire was reported at 12:49 p.m. near the city of Weed’s fire department, according to Cal Fire.
The blaze sent a plume of ominous smoke above the area, which is 55 miles south of the McKinney Fire. That blaze claimed four lives last month and is now 99% contained, according to federal officials.
The Mill Fire prompted mandatory evacuations for the communities of Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Office. Those areas include more than 5,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The California Department of Transportation said Highway 97 in the area of the fire was closed.
The office used the National Weather Service to spread word of the mandatory evacuations for areas near Weed. The county abuts Oregon.
The McKinney Fire, the state’s largest of the year, burned through 60,138 acres and wasn’t expected to be fully contained until Oct. 1, according to its federal incident report from forest officials.
The blaze near Weed erupted amid a National Weather Service red flag warning for the uppermost reaches of California as well as for southwest Oregon, where multiple fires were reported.
The afternoon temperature in Weed was 91 degrees with low humidity, but with very low wind speed reported, according to the weather service. A red flag warning, when any minor ignition can feasibly start a wildfire, is the National Weather Service’s highest-level alert for residents. It denotes warm temperatures, low humidity, and stronger winds.
The Cedar Creek fire in near the small Oregon city of Oakridge was at 9,199 acres Friday, with 12% of it surrounded, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
It was started Aug. 1 by lightning, officials said.
The cause of the Mill Fire was under investigation.