Wildfires burn in California counties, lead to evacuations
Two wildfires in Mendocino County nearly doubled in size overnight Friday, forcing evacuations and warnings that displaced hundreds of people from their homes and were threatening nearly 400 structures.
The River Fire near Hopland broke out at 1 p.m. Friday and by Saturday morning had grown to 6,500 acres and destroyed at least one home and one outbuilding, Cal Fire said.
That fire also spawned evacuation advisories in neighboring Lake County, where the sheriff’s department advised residents in Lakeport and other areas to consider evacuating as a precaution.
The advisory covered all of Lakeport, as well as from the Mendocino County line in the west to the 3000 block of Scotts Valley Road and Park Way to the north, the shores of Clear Lake to the east and Highland Springs and Big Valley Road to the south.
Within hours, that advisory changed with Lakeport officials ordering residents west of State Route 29 to evacuate, including patients at the Sutter Lakeside Hospital.
Sutter Health spokeswoman Nancy Turner said 14 hospitalized patients and another who was in the emergency room seeking treatment were being moved to other facilities.
“We’re coordinating right now with our Sutter Health transfer center,” she said.
The city’s order said evacuations were necessary for “all areas west of Highway 29 between Highland Springs Road and 11th Street/Scotts Valley Road, and west to the Lake/Mendocino County Line. A shelter has been established at Mountain Vista Middle School in Kelseyville. Additional shelters will be announced as they become available.”
The other fire in Mendocino County was the Ranch Fire northeast of Ukiah, which erupted at about 1 p.m. Friday and by Saturday morning had grown to 3,500 acres.
Both fires were only at 2 percent containment Saturday morning and were fought in steep terrain and intense heat, with Cal Fire using air tankers from throughout the state to attack the blazes.
Mandatory evacuations from the River Fire forced 410 people to leave and seek shelter with friends or relatives or at an evacuation center that was set up at Mendocino College in Ukiah, Undersheriff Matthew Kendall said.
Another 435 people under evacuation warnings from both fires left voluntarily, and most ended up staying with relatives or friends in the area, Kendall said.
“The sheriff’s office has not sustained any injuries and we have no information on civilian injuries,” Kendall said, but he added that residents are being warned about exposure to smoke from the fires.
The River Fire is burning toward a community composed of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, Kendall said, as well as the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, and authorities met with tribal leaders Friday to map out plans to deal with the fire.
“On their reservation they have several homes that have been there forever,” he said. “They have a pretty good size community, and they’re working hand in hand with us.”
Conditions were calm Saturday morning, but the area typically gets breezes that begin moving in at about 11:30 a.m. and continue into the afternoon, Kendall said, and Cal Fire noted that a red flag warning for high winds is in effect in the area.
Firefighters in Napa County also were responding to a 100-acre blaze that was forcing mandatory evacuations of Berryessa Highlands and Pleasure Cove.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story, using information supplied by Cal Fire, said seven firefighters had been injured. Cal Fire later said no firefighters had been injured.