Growing wildfire threatens hundreds of homes in northern California
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire east of California’s Napa Valley has charred more than 11 square miles after it jumped a containment line in rugged, steep terrain baked by triple digit temperatures, fire officials said Wednesday.
At least 136 structures remain threatened, and mandatory evacuations of more than 200 people from their homes stand.
The blaze, which sent a smoke plume visible for miles and gave the horizon an amber hue, is one of several blazes burning across the state. Temperatures in northern California are expected to top 100 degrees.
The flare-up Tuesday chewed up about 400 acres before firefighters controlled it. No injuries were reported. The fire is mostly contained.
The week-old fire was given a burst of energy by rising temperatures, wind gusts and low humidity, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
In the central California foothills, helicopters and air tankers were attacking another fire burning near the tiny wooded communities of Bass Lake and Cascadel Woods north of Fresno.
A boy acknowledged starting the fire by playing with a lighter to burn pine needles, Madera County District Attorney David Linn said, noting the boy tried to smother the fire with his clothes and his family fought it with water.
“As dry as the conditions are in the Sierra now … they couldn’t stop it,” said Linn, declining to identify the boy, who remains at home because of his cooperation and could be charged next week.
Residents remained under orders to be prepared to evacuate because of the blaze, which has charred more than 3 square miles. It is 30 percent contained.
In the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Sacramento, 50 homes remained evacuated because of a wildfire that ignited Saturday. As many as 1,800 homes were threatened by shifting winds, Berlant said. The fire burned through more than 3 1/2 square miles and is about half contained.
Four firefighters were hurt Sunday while battling the wildfire.
One of them, Los Padres Hotshots Capt. Matt Aoki, has severe burns on his hands and face. He remained hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
California has seen more wildfires this year, but less acreage has been burned thanks to favorable weather and more firefighters who can quickly be dispatched to corral flames, fire officials say.