California wildfire grows to 8,700 acres; 3,000 evacuate

June 25 (UPI) — Northern California’s wind-driven Pawnee Fire grew to more than 8,700 acres Monday, destroying nearly two dozen structures and leaving and hundreds more are at risk, emergency officials said.

About 600 homes in Lake County, near San Francisco, were under evacuation orders Monday morning. Those who stayed were advised to limit water use so firefighters can battle the flames.

The community of Spring Valley was evacuated Saturday, and the order was extended to all roads accessed by Old Long Valley Road and New Long Valley Road, north of Highway 20. About 3,000 people live in the affected area.

The fire began Saturday and burned through thick brush on mountainous terrain. It increased in size when cooler temperatures and gusty winds arrived Sunday, and remains uncontained.

More than 230 firefighters were involved in efforts to box in the fire, along with 32 fire engines, two helicopters and two water tankers, authorities said.

An evacuation center was established at a local high school, along with a staging area for pets and other animals.

The fire is centered about 70 miles north of California’s Napa region, which was ravaged by the Thomas Fire in December, the largest recorded fire in the state’s history.

“Firefighters been doing an amazing job at structure protection, but because of the rate of speed the fire is spreading we are seeing some homes lost,” state Sen. Mike McGuire, who represents much of the area, told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. “It’s been erratic and conditions can change at a moment’s notice.”

The Pawnee Fire is the largest of 14 fires currently burning in California.