GUINDA (AP) — A massive wildfire in rural Northern California has exploded in size and forced evacuations in hot, dry weather that is sweeping through several western states where blazes are threatening thousands of homes.
The fast-moving fire that started over the weekend northwest of Sacramento grew dramatically to about 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) by Monday, largely burning out of control in rugged terrain with a few cattle and horse ranches and sending smoke and ash as far south as San Francisco.
The fire that started Saturday about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco spread as strong winds pushed smoke south, dusting cars and homes with a thin layer of gray ash. About 300 people were told to flee their homes, and more than 100 buildings were threatened. No injuries were reported.
The flames were chewing through 1.5 square miles (4 square kilometers) of rugged terrain in the hills outside of the tiny town of Guinda, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Gabe Lauderbale said.
“This fire is absolutely, extremely fast-moving,” he said.
Thick smoke put a damper on what would otherwise be a busy time at nearby Lake Berryessa.
“It’s frustrating,” Chad Frazier, the owner of Berryessa Watersports at the Markley Cove Resort, told KGO-TV. “We were hoping with Fourth of July being on a Wednesday this this whole week would give us a bump. But obviously with the fire, it’s not happening.”
Slightly cooler temperatures were forecast later Monday but gusty winds that could spread the blaze also were expected, Lauderbale said.
The hot, windy conditions fueling the fire and others across the West were expected to persist through the end of July in Utah and parts of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, U.S. fire officials said. The Southwest, which has been struggling with drought, should get enough rain in early July to reduce the risk of major blazes in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, the National Interagency Fire Center said Sunday.