Hundreds of fires are burning throughout California, led by the Rocky fire at more than 60,000 acres.
California’s Rocky fire has now destroyed 24 residences and forced more than 12,000 people to evacuate, growing to more than 60,000 acres over three northern California counties. The fire is burning in a remote area east of Clear Lake, located between California Highways 29 and 16 about 100 miles north of San Francisco.
According to the Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention Cal Fire website, nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, but are hampered by steep and rugged terrain with little access. The fire, which began July 29 and is only 12 percent contained, is burning in an area with little to no fire history, meaning fuel is abundant. The area is also tinder-dry due to near-drought conditions.
Evacuations have been urgent, as the fire is extremely fast-moving. Brad Alexander, chief spokesperson for the governor’s emergency service office, said the fire is racing as fast as the wind can carry it, and it is critical that people are listening. Radio, television and social networks have been broadcasting evacuation information, and deputies have been going door to door.
Thousands of lightning strikes have caused hundreds of smaller fires thoughout California, although two of the fires were caused through negligence. A boy playing with a lighter started a fire that burned 200 homes, and a woman has been arrested on suspicion of starting a 200-acre fire outside Yosemite National Park. Her bail is set at $100,000.
David Ruhl, a firefighter from South Dakota, died Thursday in the Frog fire in California’s Modoc National Forest. He was driving, scouting ways to fight the fire, and became trapped after erratic winds caused the blaze to suddenly expand.
More than 8,000 firefighters are deployed to Northern California. California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist with disaster recovery.