A wildfire stuck a Northern California town still recovering from a massive fire nearly a year ago, destroying more than 100 homes and forcing thousands to flee, authorities said Monday.
Gusts kicked up flames on Sunday and the fire tore through neighborhoods in Lower Lake, a town of 1,200 roughly 90 miles north of San Francisco, officials said. It reached Main Street and burned several buildings.
The blaze was one of 11 large wildfires in California, where high temperatures and parched conditions brought on by a five-year drought raised the fire danger. In central California, a day-old wildfire burned 20 structures and threatened 150 homes.
The Lower Lake fire broke out Saturday afternoon and exploded to nearly 5 square miles as it fed on bone-dry vegetation. Besides the wind, 100-degree heat hindered firefighters struggling to get a handle on the largely out-of-control blaze.
More than 100 homes were destroyed, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said Monday. Officials did not immediately know how many businesses and other buildings were lost but say thousands are still threatened.
No one was injured, and officials were hopeful the wind won’t pick up again like it did the day before.
Residents who thought the fire was under control earlier Sunday went on errands in town and came back to roaring flames and smoke. Some used hoses or water from their pools to try to protect their houses.
The fire shifted into Lower Lake after creating its own weather pattern, said Suzie Blankenship, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Tragically, the burned Habitat for Humanity office had been raising money to help rebuild homes destroyed by one of the state’s most destructive blazes nearly a year ago.
“Emotions are still incredibly raw from the Valley Fire,” state Sen. Mike McGuire said about last year’s wildfire, which killed four people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes. “I don’t think any of us thought we’d be back where we are tonight.”
In central California, similar conditions led the wildfire near Lake Nacimiento, about 180 miles northwest of Los Angeles, to explode from 2 to nearly 7 square miles Sunday, Cal Fire spokesman Bennet Milloy said. The blaze shifted north toward the lake, leading authorities to evacuate some residents by boat.
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