Two fires burning in mountainous terrain south of Highway 32, about 40 miles east of Chico, began within hours of each other Wednesday morning, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection official said.
By Wednesday night, the Panther fire had burned approximately 1,500 acres while the Cedar fire, about 12 miles away, had consumed 55 acres. Both are south of Butte Meadows and burning in timber and timber slash, said Cal Fire Capt. Matt Damon.
"The two fires are unrelated. The cause for both is still under investigation," he said.
Dry, windy weather is pushing the Panther fire toward steep terrain. Two helicopters were deployed but had to turn back because of high winds. There is no containment so far.
The smaller Cedar fire was 40 percent contained as of Wednesday night. Weather conditions there permitted the use of a helicopter and air tanker during part of the day.
Cal Fire Butte County and Lassen National Forest crews are among more than 300 personnel responding to the blazes. Officials are requesting more resources statewide.
"This is extremely early in the fire season," Damon said.