WEED, Siskiyou County (CBS / AP) — A fire driven by fierce winds raced through a small town near the Oregon border on Monday, burning a church to the ground, damaging or destroying 100 homes and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,500 people, authorities said.
This tiny town near the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains was under siege from a 350-acre blaze that surged toward and through it through timberland.
The town sawmill caught fire, and a Catholic church was destroyed.
The blaze erupted at around 1:30 p.m. south of Weed, a scenic town of nearly 3,000 located about 50 miles south of the Oregon border and about half way between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
“It was fast-moving, fanned by incredibly gusty winds of up to 40 mph,” state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “It went into and around the town.”
Blowing embers started spot fires as much as a half-mile ahead of the fire front, and evacuations were called for Weed and two outskirt subdivisions.