The Carr Fire in Shasta County grew nearly 9,000 acres throughout the day Thursday after tripling in size overnight, and is threatening areas west of Redding, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.
The wildfire reached 28,763 acres and was 10 percent contained shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
High winds and hot, dry weather forced firefighters to move the Highway 299 road closure to Buenaventura Boulevard on the outskirts of Redding earlier in the day.
Smoke from the fire rendered the air quality around Redding unhealthy, and it led to hazy skies in the Sacramento region on Thursday, according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
The fire’s growth forced Old Shasta residents to evacuate Thursday morning, Cal Fire said, and the California Highway Patrol warned people in west Redding to be ready to leave as well.
Redding itself was not under an evacuation order as of Thursday afternoon, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department stressed, but Cal Fire Shasta-Trinity Unit Chief Mike Hebrard said at a press conference that people on the west side of town “are probably seeing embers landing on their cars.”
Everywhere in Shasta County north of Highway 299 and west of the Sacramento River has been evacuated, the sheriff’s department said on Facebook on Thursday afternoon. To the south, the area northwest of Lower Springs Road and Swasey Drive to Highway 299 has also been evacuated, the department said.
The fire started Monday in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area from a vehicle that had a mechanical failure, but it had remained a few thousand acres in size before exploding Wednesday night to 20,000 acres.
Three outbuildings have been destroyed in French Gulch, which was evacuated Monday, and most of the Oak Bottom Marina on Whiskeytown Lake was destroyed by the fire overnight, Hebrard said. Thirty to 40 boats caught fire, he said.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Shasta County on Thursday morning, the California Office of Emergency Services said. The state previously secured a fire management assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid containment of the Carr Fire.
Evacuation centers have been established at Shasta High School, 2500 Eureka Way in Redding, and at Weaverville Elementary School, 129 S. Main St. in Weaverville, Cal Fire said.