The flames raced into the Lincoln Heights neighborhood where a significant number of homes burned and residents had to flee for their lives.
A wind-swept wildfire in rural Northern California tore through a neighborhood and destroyed about 100 homes and other buildings, fire officials said Saturday after at least two people were injured and thousands were forced from their homes.
The Mill Fire started shortly before 1 p.m. Friday just north of Weed, a city of about 2,600 people 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of San Francisco. The flames raced into the Lincoln Heights neighborhood where a significant number of homes burned and residents had to flee for their lives.
Two people were brought to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta. One was in stable condition and the other was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, which has a burn unit.
Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit Chief Phil Anzo said crews worked all day and night to protect structures in Weed and in a subdivision to the east known as Carrick Addition.
“There’s a lot at stake on that Mill Fire,” he said. “There’s a lot of communities, a lot of homes there.”
Weather conditions improved overnight and firefighters were able to get 20% containment but another blaze, the Mountain Fire, that broke out Friday northwest of Weed grew substantially. No injuries or buildings had been reported lost in that fire. The causes for both fires were under investigation.
Anzo estimated about 100 homes and other buildings were lost in the Mill Fire. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County and said a federal grant had been received “to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress?the fire.”
Naomi Vogelsang, 46, may have lost her 10-year-old English bulldog, Bella, to the Mill Fire. Vogelsang said she was napping on a couch when a friend told her to leave immediately.
“Everything was black,” she said Saturday. “Things were exploding, you couldn’t see in front of your face.”
A firefighter picked her up and put her on a firetruck to get to safety but her dog, due to turn 11 next month, would not follow. The houses all around her were burned.
Vogelsang said she slept on a bench in Weed on Friday night because she could not get a ride to the evacuation center. On Saturday morning, she was planning to go to a casino with the $20 she had left.
Her luck couldn’t get much worse, she said.
“My dog was my everything,” she said. “I just feel like I lost everything that mattered.”
California is in a deep drought as it heads into what traditionally is the worst of the fire season. Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
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