Northern California town of Weed suffers massive fire
A fire official said a fast-moving fire in northern California injured several people and destroyed several homes Friday, as thousands of residents were forced to leave, blocking roads at the start of a sweltering Labor Day weekend.
This forced nearly 7,500 residents to leave the area immediately. Suzi Brady, a spokeswoman for Cal Fire, said several people were injured and taken to the hospital. She said she did not know the extent of their injuries.
She said evacuations were continuing, and the fire was still spreading rapidly amid 58 mph winds.
Furthermore, she also reported that more resources had been requested to assist at least 200 firefighters fighting the blaze from the ground and air.
The fire broke out on the property of Roseburg Forest Products, a sawmill north of the town of Weed, and quickly burned homes nearby and triggered evacuation orders for all of Weed and the nearby communities of Lake Shastina and Edgewood, with a combined population of about 7,500 people, said Weed Councillor Sue Tavalero.
Suzi Brady said there were homes burned in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. “But I don’t know how many. I’m sure there were several homes lost,” she said.
The fire spread quickly in hot and windy conditions, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. The fire had burned 2.5 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Rebecca Taylor, communications manager for Springfield, Oregon-based Roseburg Forest Products, said she did not know where or how the fire started, but the company evacuated its veneer plant in Weed after the fire was reported at 12:58 p.m. Friday. The plant employs 145 people, although not all were on the job at the time, Ms Taylor said.
“We are just devastated to see this fire affect the community in this way,” she said.
People who evacuated described thick smoke and chunks of ash falling from massive flames near Weed, about 50 miles south of the Oregon border.
California is in the grip of a lingering heat wave. Temperatures have been so high that residents have been urged for three consecutive days to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening, when the sun’s power is declining.