Raging Northern California wildfires prompt evacuations

Author: associated press

LOWER LAKE, Calif. (AP) – Fire officials called for thousands of evacuations as numerous homes remained threatened by Northern California wildfires Monday, while more than 9,000 firefighters battled 21 major fires in the state, officials said.

Wildfires were also burning in Washington and Oregon as the West Coast suffered from the effects of drought and summer heat.

The largest California wildfire was raging in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco. It nearly tripled in size over the weekend to 84 square miles.

The fire has destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings and was threatening 6,300 homes, many of them ranches scattered in rural areas ranging from grasslands to steep hills, officials said.

Officials have ordered 12,000 people to evacuate homes, the Sacramento Bee reported (http://bit.ly/1Ie4toA ). Several roads have been closed.

Fire officials “are calling the behavior of this fire unprecedented,” state fire spokesman Jason Shanley told the newspaper. “It is jaw-dropping to see some of the things it is doing.”

“Everyone we know that lives down there, they have nothing anymore. It’s just crazy,” Nikki Shatter of Clear Lake told KCAL-TV.

Even though the temperature dropped into the 80s Sunday and the humidity was up, the fire continued to advance.

“We chewed up a couple of thousand acres” in a single day but no additional homes were lost, state fire spokesman Jay Smith said.

There also has been a human toll from the wildfires.

One firefighter was killed at the scene of a fire at the Modoc National Forest, 100 miles south of the Oregon border, and four other were burned in a blaze near Sacramento.

Many of the California blazes were sparked by lightning. The danger was expected to continue with scattered thunderstorms and gusty winds forecast for some areas of Northern California into Monday, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

That left it an open question whether fire crews would be able to make significant progress on the largest wildfires.

“It depends on mother nature, whatever she has in store,” Smith said.

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