Fires

Firefighters watch out for winds in fight to quell 65,000-acre Rocky fire

Video: Michael Rousseau makes trip to see Rocky fire damage near his home

Lake County resident Michael Rousseau was evacuated - twice - because of the Rocky fire. He describes having to deal with the evacuations and living in an area of fire danger. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacramento Bee
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Lake County resident Michael Rousseau was evacuated - twice - because of the Rocky fire. He describes having to deal with the evacuations and living in an area of fire danger. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacramento Bee

Firefighters made progress on the stubborn Rocky fire Tuesday, while keeping an eye on the possibility that afternoon winds and thunderstorms could cause big problems.

The fire, burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties, broke out Wednesday and has destroyed 65,000 acres. It remains 12 percent contained.

A total of 24 homes have burned in the blaze that erupted in fury over the weekend, burning 20,000 acres in a five-hour period. On Monday, the fire jumped over Highway 20, a road where firefighters had attempted to stop the blaze.

The fire grew 3,000 acres overnight and conditions were fairly calm Tuesday morning as firefighters continued to fight the Rocky fire from the skies and on the ground.

“This fire has continued to progress in size,” said Cal Fire Chief Information Officer Daniel Berlant in a Tuesday Periscope broadcast. “We were trying to hold it at Highway 20 yesterday. Unfortunately, with the winds that picked up and with the increased fire activity, this fire jumped over Highway 20.”

He said if winds blow hard Tuesday from the east, a portion of the fire that jumped Highway 20 could spread to the north and west.

More than 3,200 firefighters, working in shifts, are battling the fire 24 hours a day. Some crews with engines are positioned next to homes.

“Their whole job is to protect those homes the best that they came,” said Berlant.

He said that the fire has burned with such ferocity at times that winds have been formed within the fire zone.

“When you get a fire this big – 65,000 acres – it starts to get so hot, so intense, that it creates its own weather pattern, its own wind,” Berlant said.

About two dozen wildfires are burning in the state. Several were contained overnight, but others were ignited, Berlant said.

“It is a very busy day for us,” he said.

After controlling the fire overnight near Highway 16 and 20 in Colusa County and Lake County the Rocky fire made its way to the northern part of Highway 20 in Lake County.

Lake County resident Michael Rousseau was evacuated - twice - because of the Rocky fire. He describes having to deal with the evacuations and living in an area of fire danger. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacramento Bee

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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