The Latest: California’s drought prompts wildfire concerns
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):
A forestry scientist says it’s difficult to forecast how severe California’s wildfires will be this year, but said the drought-dried vegetation throughout the state is a bad omen.
Keith Gilless, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley’s department of environmental science, said Monday that the dry grass and brush is cause for concern.
Gilless and others also said Lake County in Northern California has been particularly hard hit by four destructive fires since 2015.
Jim Steele, an elected county supervisor, said the community is impoverished and its fire-fighting equipment antiquated. He also said the county has just a few roads into and out of the region, which can hinder response time.
Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said more than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment close the blaze.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for a Northern California wildfire that remains uncontained by firefighters.
The state of emergency issued Monday allows Lake County to receive more state resources to fight the fire and for recovery afterward.
The fire, which started Saturday, is now nearly 13 square miles (21 square kilometers) and has destroyed 12 buildings.
About 3,000 people have been ordered evacuated.
Lake County is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of San Francisco. __
Terri Gonsalves is one of an estimated 3,000 Northern California residents who evacuated homes threatened by a growing wildfire.
The 55-year-old fled her Lake County home about midnight Sunday, tossing four goats into her truck. She had been monitoring another fire that appeared to be moving away, but then she looked out her back window and saw a big hill aflame.
That’s when she fled.
She is staying with her daughter in nearby Middletown, a small city devastated by wildfire in 2015. She last heard that her house is safe.
She posted on Facebook that she needed to borrow a portable pen big enough for four goats that keep escaping her daughter’s yard.
Fire officials say 10 more buildings have burned and that the largest wildfire in Northern California is still growing.
California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday that the fire in Lake County north of San Francisco is now nearly 13 square miles (21 square kilometers).
Some 3,000 people have been ordered evacuated from the most threatened neighborhood.
Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. Corey Pavlich said the neighborhood is still too dangerous to inspect, so officials do not have an accurate estimate of home destroyed or damaged. Officials say 600 buildings are threatened.
Pavlich said 16 residents spent the night in the county’s evacuation center about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of San Francisco.
A Northern California police officer who was helping residents flee a wildfire had his home destroyed by the blaze.
Red Bluff Police Lt. Matt Hansen said Monday that Corporal Ruben Murgia was helping residents evacuate when his pregnant wife and three young children were also ordered to leave their home.
Hansen says the family escaped safely and the 32-year-old Murgia completed his 12-hour shift Saturday, but has been given time off now to help his family recover.
Hansen said a local fundraising effort for Murgia has generated about $10,000 in cash, furniture and clothing.
Hansen said replacing Murgia’s lost clothing is complicated by the fact the 6-year department veteran is 6-foot, 8-inches (2 meters) tall and weighs 300 pounds (136 kilograms).
Hansen says Murgia orders most of his clothing online because stores rarely carry clothes that fit him.
Wind-driven wildfires breaking out across Northern California forced thousands of residents to flee their homes throughout rural regions north of San Francisco.
California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Monday that the major fires continue to grow and threaten hundreds of homes and businesses, but there are no reports of injuries or deaths.
About 3,000 residents evacuated homes in Lake County over the weekend where a wildfire that is not contained at all grew to 12 square miles (31 square kilometers) and destroyed 12 buildings.
Farther north, authorities order residents to evacuate in Tehama and Shasta counties.
Officials say the Tehama wildfire grew to 4 square miles (6 square kilometers), destroyed multiple homes and businesses and threatens 200 more. Officials said that fire is 20 percent contained.