High heat returning to California as wildfires continue
BECKWOURTH, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters battled several wildfires and shut down miles of forest in Northern California on Thursday as forecasts called for a new round of dangerously hot and dry weather throughout much of the state.
Campgrounds and homes around Frenchman Lake in the northern Sierra Nevada were under evacuation orders due to increased activity of a pair of lightning-sparked fires.
The Beckwourth Complex covered nearly 19 1/2 square miles (50.5 square kilometers), including the eastern edge of Plumas National Forest, and was 30% contained.
On Friday, officials closed off a swath of the nearly 1,800-square-mile (4,637.6-square kilometer) forest because of the fire, which was burning through pine, fir and chaparral turned bone-dry by low humidity and high temperatures, fire information officer Pandora Valle said.
Visitors were barred from nearly 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) of the forest, an area larger than the city of San Jose.
Ridgetop winds and afternoon gusts of up to 35 mph were “really pushing” the flames, Valle said.
In the region between the Oregon border and the northern end of the Central Valley, the big Lava and Tennant fires were significantly contained but progress was slower at the Salt Fire, where some evacuations remained in effect.
The nearly 20-square-mile (51-square-kilometer) Salt Fire was 35% contained after burning 41 structures.
The Lava Fire destroyed 20 structures, including 13 homes, and damaged two structures. The Tennant Fire destroyed five buildings, including two homes.
In Mendocino County, firefighters stopped the movement of a fire that erupted in vegetation Wednesday afternoon, destroyed one structure and threatened 80 others, Cal Fire said.
Forecasters, meanwhile, warned that strengthening high pressure over California will bring widespread triple-digit heat over coming days.
California’s power grid operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to avoid possible disruptions and rolling blackouts. Flex Alerts call for consumers to voluntarily conserve electricity by reducing the use of power-hungry appliances such as washers and keeping the thermostat higher during crucial evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available.