Lava fire spans over 17,000 acres, 3,500 residents evacuated

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Firefighters on Wednesday pushed back flames encroaching on residential areas on the rugged terrain near Mount Shasta, nearly a week after the lava fire first erupted across the Siskiyou County landscape and moved more than 3,500 people.

The blaze has more than quadrupled since Monday, when firefighters apologized for not fully extinguishing the small blaze that developed in the 17,500-acre blaze near Weed between Mount Shasta and Lake Shastina.

Teams made good progress on Wednesday establishing fire lines to protect the Lake Shastina residences, aided by strong winds that pushed the fire back onto itself towards the heavily forested areas surrounding Mount Shasta, said John DeYoe, door – speech of the inter-agency team managing the fire.

About 3,500 people were evacuated from the communities of Lake Shastina and the Juniper Valley. No injuries or deaths were reported. Firefighters have not indicated when evacuation orders will be lifted.

Firefighters contained 19% of wildfires on Wednesday night, but that number is expected to drop due to an “explosion” on the northern part of the blaze, said Daniel Ramey, spokesperson and firefighter for the Peardale Chicago Park Fire District. .

Some fire teams were ordered to retreat to safe areas on Wednesday in response to “erratic” and unpredictable behavior from the fires, Ramey said, with flames engulfing the pine canopy posing an increased risk to firefighters.

But while some teams were pulled from the line of fire for their safety, bulldozer units continued to dig perimeter lines throughout the hottest part of the day, Ramey said. Firefighting planes dropped a flame retardant to stop the spread of the blaze as crews prepared for another change in wind direction.

“We have prepared for a change in the wind and now is the time to see how the lines of fire hold up,” said Ramey.

Base camps have been established at Weed Union Elementary School and Weed College for the nearly 1,000 firefighters and staff on site.

The lightning-triggered wildfire blasted onto Highway 97 on Monday, forcing authorities to close 30 miles of the roadway. The motorway connects Weed to the town of Dorris.

Evacuation orders remained in place for residents on Wednesday, including for people living in or near the following areas:

• North of Hoy Road

• Along Highway 97 to County Road A-12

• Communities of Lake Shastina and the Juniper Valley

• Big Springs Road on the east and west sides

• Subdivision of Mount Shasta Vista

• County Road A-12 North and South

• Harry Money Route

• 4 angles to Hart Road

Fire crews dispatched to a quarter-acre blaze in Siskiyou County last Friday left the area after believing they had put out the small blaze. An hour later, the fire resumed and quickly spread, officials said. Over the weekend, that fire turned into the lava fire.

Todd Mack, a fire management officer for the Shasta Trinity National Forest, apologized on Monday for crews who left the site in error.

Nora Mishanec and Omar Shaikh Rashad are the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]; omar.rashad @sfchronicle.com


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