Crews making headway in fight to contain Pawnee Fire in Lake County

Firefighters made inroads on wildfires across in Northern California on Tuesday, but rural Lake County saw expanded evacuations as firefighters are still working to gain control of the Pawnee Fire, Cal Fire said Tuesday.

Fueled by erratic winds, hot temperatures and relatively low humidity, the Pawnee Fire grew to 13,000 acres by Tuesday evening. At least 22 structures have been destroyed in the fire so far, including homes in Spring Valley, a small community nestled in the hills northeast of Clearlake.

Evacuation warnings were issued in Colusa County on Monday, including Bear Valley, Brim Road, Wilbur Spring Area and east of Walker Ridge area. By Tuesday morning, evacuation orders extended to Spring Valley as the fire razed the dense vegetation to the east, away from the community's residences and ranches.

The Red Cross opened an evacuation center in Lower Lake, south of the fire, at Lower Lake High School on Lake Street. Evacuees also took shelter at the Moose Lodge on Highway 20, many camping in the parking lot with their pets Monday.

About 2,700 fire personnel are working to contain the fire, which Cal Fire said was 15 percent contained Tuesday evening. Crews are using 235 fire engines, 69 bulldozers and 15 helicopters in their firefighting efforts. Aircraft are also dropping flame retardant on the fire to slow its progress.

North of the Pawnee Fire, the Lane Fire in Tehama County grew to 60 percent containment, and evacuation orders were reduced to evacuation warnings, Cal Fire said. All road closures have been lifted, and residents can return to their homes.

The Lane Fire started Saturday morning and had burned 3,829 acres by Tuesday. At least 1,013 are fighting the blaze, using six bulldozers and three helicopters to expand containment.

In neighboring Shasta County, a rash of wildfires grew in containment despite rising temperatures, with at least one fire now completely contained.

Containment on the Creek Fire increased 65 percent by Tuesday afternoon, Cal Fire said. Firefighters continued to strengthen control lines even as the weather and fire activity caused vegetation in the control lines to burn.

The fire has burned 1,350 acres, destroyed four structures and injured one person.

By Monday night, evacuation orders were lifted for residents who live off Heavenly Valley, Oak Street and China Gulch. Some road closures still remain in effect along Clear Creek Road.

And to the east, the nearby Bascom Fire in Millville, which burned 328 acres off Highway 44, is now 100 percent contained, Cal Fire Shasta tweeted Tuesday morning.

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1176, @SullivanMollyM

Claire Morgan: 916-321-1191, @jemapelleclaire

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