CLEARLAKE OAKS (KPIX 5) – The Pawnee Fire continued to rage out of control and barrel toward neighborhoods in Lake County on Monday.
Cal Fire officials said the fire has burned more than 10,000 acres, with 5 percent containment since it broke out Saturday evening about 10 miles northeast of Clearlake Oaks.
Firefighters said 22 buildings have been destroyed and 600 homes are being threatened, forcing Sunday’s evacuation of the communityof Spring Valley.
The Lake County Sheriff announced shortly after 3:30 p.m. that any residents in the Double Eagle Ranch area were advised to evacuate immediately.
According to the Lake County sheriff, around 2,500 people have been forced out of roughly 600 homes.
“I’ve been evacuated six times in the last five years. This is nothing new, but this is the closest one,” said evacuee Wayne McKennon.
On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Lake County due to the Pawnee Fire.
Firefighters with the Twain Harte Fire Department know the situation in Spring Valley can change in an instant.
Trees near the ridgeline practically exploded, sending flames shooting almost a hundred feet into the air.
“We’ve got trees torching in the canopies, so we’ll keep an eye on it. The wind seems to be blowing it this way away from us,” said Twain Harte Fire Capt. Zefrum Nathaniel.
Spring Valley resident Charwin Ward was lucky. Firefighters were able to save his home.
“There’s about 8 or 9 trucks out here, and they stood along this road and they saved my neighbor’s place. They saved my place,” said Ward.
Unfortunately crews weren’t able to save a cabin on Ward’s property.
“It’s like a war-zone, you know? I mean, every place you look there’s fires all the way around me,” said Ward.
Cal Fire is using every tool they have to battle the Pawnee Fire.
Bulldozers are cutting lines across the steep terrain. There is also support from the air and almost 250 firefighters on the ground.
“We have really steep rugged terrain as you can see behind us, so that is a big challenge,” said Cal Fire Capt. Amy Head.
Head said it was a fierce fire fight for this early in the season.
“It is concerning. Statistics are lining up similarly to what we saw at this point last year, and as we know last year was the most destructive fire season in the history of the state,” explained Head.
The Pawnee Fire started around 5:20 p.m. Saturday and officials immediately ordered evacuations for the Spring Valley Lakes subdivision. Since then, homes in that very area erupted in flames.
Cal Fire officials along with members of the Lake County Sheriff’s office and the Northshore Fire Protection District will host a community meeting at 6 p.m. to update local residents on the situation. The meeting will be held at the Loyal Order of the Moose at 15900 East Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks.
An evacuation center has been set up at Lower Lake High School in Lower Lake. The shelter is accepting large and companion animals.