California Wildfire: Rocky Fire Grows To 67,000 Acres, State Of Emergency Declared
The fast-moving wildfire in Lake County had covered 67,000 acres by Tuesday morning. Despite a light rain on Tuesday helping the crews, the wildfire crossed a highway in several places.
Twenty percent of the fire, which tripled over the weekend, has been contained by the crews, KCRA reported.
“One of the struggles on the Rocky Fire has just been how erratic the winds have been, pushing this fire in several different directions,” Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
The fire – which is still burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties – has forced the evacuation of almost 13,000 people. Some of these people will be spending the nights in evacuation shelters.
Peggy O’Day had to flee from her home as the fire was gradually but steadily covering more ground.
“We could see the flames cresting up over the hill into the back of the valley, and that’s when we decided we need to go,” she said.
The Rocky Fire had crossed Highway 20 on Monday, and caused ignition of several fires north of the city of Clear Lake.
“There were too many (spot fires) for us to pick up,” Battalion Chief Carl Schwettmann of the agency known as Cal Fire said. “With these drought-stricken fuels, it’s just moving at an extremely high rate of speed.”
A spokesman of the California or Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fire “is just too big, too wild.”
Cal Fire reported that more than 3,200 personnel were involved in containing the fire that threatened 6,959 residences, outbuilding and other structures. The Rocky Fire has already destroyed 24 residences and 26 outbuildings.
Rick Sanders said he was “sure” his house would not be affected by the growing fire.
“I have a lot of neighbors, I’m concerned for their houses,” Sanders said. “Mine I’m pretty sure is safe.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urged the Congress to allow the Forest Service to use disaster funding to contain the fire.
“Instead of basically maintaining and restoring and making our forest more resilient … we’re essentially one large fire department,” Vilsack said, as reported by NBC News.
The Highway 20 corridor, from New Long Valley Road to Highway 53, has been closed off.
The fire has resulted in evacuation orders for the Double Eagle housing development, the Jerusalem Valley area, east of Soda Creek and all areas found east of Cache Creek recreation area, which is along the Highway 20 corridor up to Walker Ridge Road.
The cause for the fire, which instigated on July 29, has not been determined yet.
According to USA Today, the five-stage National Preparedness Level has been upped to reach Level 4. A state of emergency has been declared by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Almost 14,000 federal and state personnel are involved in battling 27 wildfires nationwide.
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