California Fire: ‘Jerusalem’ Burns, 2nd Firefighter Dies

Jeff Chiu/AP

Firefighters working to bring the devastating Rocky Fire under control over the weekend were tasked with controlling yet another large blaze burning nearby, as the Jerusalem Fire scorched 5,000 acres in Lake County as of Monday morning.

CalFIRE reports that the Jerusalem Fire began at approximately 3:42 p.m. on Sunday in the Jerusalem Valley area of Lake County, northeast of Middletown. The blaze had quickly consumed 5,000 acres and was at zero percent containment as of 8:20 a.m. Pacific Time.

More than 16 fire crews comprising 545 total fire personnel were working to battle the blaze on Monday, the agency reported. Some of the more than 1,000 firefighters working on full containment of the nearby Rocky Fire were deployed to help battle the Jerusalem Fire.

The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.

Meanwhile, firefighters had made progress in their battle against the Rocky Fire, which has consumed nearly 70,000 acres in Lake, Colusa and Yolo Counties. The blaze was 85 percent contained as of Monday morning, and the number of firefighters working to contain it had dropped by around half, CalFIRE reported.

All mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted as of Saturday morning.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a second firefighter has died fighting the latest round of Northern California wildfires.

21-year-old Michael Hallenbeck was reportedly killed when a tree fell on top of him as he battled the Sierra Fire near Lake Tahoe. Hallenbeck is the second firefighter to die in just over a week, after 38-year-old Dave Ruhl was killed while scouting a wildfire in Modoc County.

“Our hearts go out to the family, friends and fellow crewmembers of this brave firefighter,” the U.S. Forest Service’s Randy Moore said in a statement. “The loss of any member of our Forest Service family is a tragedy. The grief we are feeling at the sudden loss of two of our firefighters; Dave Ruhl last week on the Modoc National Forest and now Mike Hallenbeck on the Basin, reminds us of the sacrifices these men and women make every day.”

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, as more than a dozen wildfires burned across California.

“California’s severe drought and extreme weather have turned much of the state into a tinderbox,” Brown said in a statement. “Our courageous firefighters are on the front lines and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”