California fire kills one as heat stokes blazes in Western US
HORNBROOK, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire raging through drought-stricken timber and brush near California’s border with Oregon killed one person and destroyed multiple structures as it burns largely out of control, authorities said Friday.
No other details were released about the death blamed on the fire that threatened 300 homes near Hornbook, a town of 250 people about 14 miles south of the Oregon border. It’s not clear the flames burned homes or other structures like barns.
It was one of dozens of fires across the dry American West, fueled by rising temperatures and gusty winds that were expected to last through the weekend. Heat spreading from Southern California into parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah threatened to worsen flames that have forced thousands of people to evacuate and destroyed hundreds of homes across the West.
On the California-Oregon border, the fire ignited Thursday and moved swiftly through the region that is home to many retirees, said Ray Haupt, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.
“It moved so fast I’m not sure how much time lagged between the evacuation and when it hit Hornbrook,” he said. “It hit there pretty quick. We know we’ve lost homes and lots of structures, including livestock and horses as well.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, citing “extreme peril” to people and property.
Farther north in Oregon, authorities urged hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to avoid forests near the state line. Although the flames have not crossed into Oregon, officials are concerned people in remote areas can’t be reached in case they need to quickly evacuate.
The areas of concern include the Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Ashland and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Fire danger could prohibit rescuers from looking for anyone, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said.
Elsewhere in California, a massive blaze northwest of Sacramento had destroyed nine homes, officials said. Firefighters had begun inspecting the fire zone, which covers an area nearly three times the size of San Francisco.
The fire, spanning 140 square miles, was partially contained, but crews struggled in steep, rugged terrain. With the weather getting hotter and drier, and officials said the fire could grow.
About 75 miles east of Los Angeles, a wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest prompted mandatory evacuations for the entire community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes and about 1,000 residents.