Jun 30, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Northern California fires force at least 8,000 to evacuate

Satellite photo of smoke blowing across Northern California

Smoke blows from the Lava and Tenant Fires in Northern California on June 29, 2021. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

Fast-spreading wildfires across northern California are forcing thousands of residents to evacuate as firefighters work around the clock to battle the blazes.

Driving the news: The lightning-sparked Lava Fire in Siskiyou County has scorched more than 13,330 acres of land, expanding nearly tenfold since Monday, per the U.S. Forest Service.

  • Between 8,000 and 10,000 residents are under evacuation orders, county Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue told the Los Angeles Times.
  • Fueled by winds and hot temperatures, the Lava Fire continues to spread into steep and rugged terrain, and threatens to damage critical infrastructure, including rail lines.

The Tennant Fire, a nearby blaze first reported Monday afternoon, has spread across 1,700 acres, primarily taking off in a rural part of northeastern California.

  • A smoke forecast for the next 36 hours shows higher-level smoke spreading across northern California into Oregon, with thick smoke affecting areas to the south and east.
  • As of 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 5% of the fire was contained. Crews are working to construct and improve firelines. Diminishing winds are expected to help the effort.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: With the ongoing drought, meager winter snow and early snow melt, California's wildfire season started early and may be one of the worst on record.

  • Whether it outpaces last year's benchmarks depends in part on how many extreme fire weather days (high winds, high temperatures, dry lightning strikes) materialize. But the entire state, especially forests, are primed to burn.

The big picture: The state has secured funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help combat the flames, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Tuesday.

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