New fire breaks out in Northern California; homes threatened

UPPER LAKE, California. – Days after the fires left a deadly swatch of destruction in Northern California rural counties, a new brand has exploded into life and threatened more homes in what has become an endless summer of flame in the Golden State.

North of San Francisco, a fire that threatened homes in an old cattle-breeding and agriculture area in the vicinity of Covelo. About 60 houses were evacuated as the fire broke out late Tuesday and winds whipped flames through the bushes, grass, oak, pine and spruce in the vicinity of Groningen, National Forest, Mendocino County Undersheriff Matthew Kendall said.

“We advised that the fire was threatening structures,” he said.

The area was only about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of where the twin fires in Mendocino and Lake counties have burned an area nearly three times the size of San Francisco, destroyed seven homes and threatened 12,000 more.

The Lake County seat of Lakeport remained under evacuation orders, and was a virtual ghost town, although people were allowed to return home in several smaller communities such as the fire department shored up containment lines. Despite the progress, the fires were 12 percent contained.

Jessyca Lytle fled a fast-moving wildfire in 2015 should be spared her property, but destroyed her mother’s memorabilia-filled Lake County home.

Lytle found himself listening to the scanner traffic Tuesday, and fire safety with her mother in the new house as another wildfire advanced.

“To be honest, what I think now I just want this to end,” Lytle said, adding that she was “exhausted in every way possible — physically, emotionally, all of that.”

Paul Lew and his two boys, aged 13 and 16, Saturday evacuated from their Lakeport home.

“I told them to throw everything they care about in the back of the car,” said Lew, 45. “I picked up computers, mobile phones, papers. I started to drop all my paperwork up, clothes, my guitars.”

Lew, who is separated from Lytle, is camped at the house in the neighborhood of Cobb that they fled in 2015. He watches over her chickens, sheep and other animals. With a smile he said, repeated fire warnings have him as an emergency preparation expert.

“It is almost as if three years,” he said. “It is a little bit crazy.”

To the east, another blaze Tuesday night raged through grassy cattle lands in the neighborhood of Yuba City, with an area of more than 1 1/2 square miles (4 square kilometers) in a couple of hours.

The area is primarily a ranching area of barns and other buildings, and no evacuations were ordered, said Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and fire protection.

The new fire broke out, without warning and spread with shocking speed through the forest and brush, which literally are the fungi.

“It just goes on and on,” McLean said.

“We had rain at the beginning of the year and did was to promote the cultivation of grass and brush,” McLean said. “It’s a Catch 22. It is becoming more and more of the product to catch on fire.

“We’ve never really out of the drought,” McLean added. “We have several years of significant rainfall … to bring California back.”

He also had a warning for the people who go to the countryside and nature reserves.

“Please,” he said. “Not park the car on the dry grass … no campfires, no flame. It Is not something to start a fire now.”

Elsewhere, Carr had burned in the Fire 965 homes and killed six people in and around the Rescue. Another 413 outbuildings were also destroyed, and the blaze is now the seventh most devastating forest fire in California history, fire officials said.

The fire had burned more than 176 square miles (457 sq km) and was 30 percent contained.

A relative identified one of the victims of Daniel Bush, 62.

Bush was returned to his mobile home in the community of Keswick last Tuesday after undergoing a quadruple heart bypass surgery, but he was not able to drive and would need help to evacuate when the fire came through the area on Thursday, his sister, Kathi Gaston, told the Redding Record Searchlight.

Gaston said her brother had wanted to stay in his own home, but he had spotty cell service and with the power out, he would not have received word of the fire.

Gaston said she couldn’t get to her brother’s house, because with the fire approaching, police officers blocked the road and then they themselves had to evacuate.

“If it could go when we wanted to, he would be alive right now,” she said. “I am very angry about it.”

National Park officials said Tuesday the beautiful Yosemite Valley and other areas will be closed at least until Sunday as a result of the heavy smoke from the so-called Ferguson Fire. The closure began July 25.

It was the longest closure in Yosemite since 1997, as well as floods, closed in the park for more than two months.


Har reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco also contributed to this report.

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