WEED, Siskiyou County (AP/CBS SF) — Hundreds of firefighters faced more hot and dry weather on the front lines of multiple wildfires burning out of control in Northern California on Thursday.
Mount Shasta, the volcano that towers over the region, was shrouded in a haze of smoke plumes so huge they could easily be seen in images from weather satellites in space.READ MORE: Dixie Fire Update: Firefighters Battle To Save Chester; 'We Lost Greenville Tonight'; Lassen Volcanic National Park Shut Down
The scene was ominously reminiscent of last year’s California wildfire season, which scorched more than 6,562 square miles, the most in recorded history.
An extraordinary Pacific Northwest heat wave that extended into the upper reaches of California was slowly receding, but it was only expected to cool off slightly before temperatures trend back up heading into the Fourth of July weekend, forecasters said.
“It is very hot and dry,” said Suzi Johnson, a Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokeswoman.
California and the rest of the U.S. West is mired in a historic drought tied to climate change, which also is contributing to worsening wildfire seasons and heat waves.
The Lava Fire in the shadow of volcanic Mount Shasta grew to 19,680 acres (30.7 square miles) and was 25% contained but all evacuation orders for communities north of the city of Weed remained in effect, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials said.
The steep, rocky terrain was challenging the nearly 1,300 firefighters on the lines of the blaze, which was ignited by lightning last week. A number of Bay Area fire departments have sent strike teams north to help battle the fire.
About 15 miles to the northeast, a fire that broke out Monday in the Klamath National Forest and forced evacuations covered approximately 9,439 acres (14.7 square miles) and was just 6% contained. Authorities confirmed that at least five structures have been destroyed by the Tennant Fire, including the abandoned Juniper Lodge Motel on Highway 97.READ MORE: UPDATE: Suspicious Device Found Along Oakland Waterfront Not An Explosive, Evacuations Lifted
The fire was expected to advance north toward Oregon. Its cause remained under investigation.
Evacuations were also in effect to the south where the Salt Fire erupted Wednesday afternoon and spread rapidly in the Shasta Lake area north of the city of Redding. The fire was estimated at more than 2,800 acres (4 square miles) early Thursday and is zero percent contained.
The fire forced the temporary closure of Interstate Highway 5 in both directions, fire officials said.
Evacuation orders were in place for: Zola Drive, Cordes Court, and Solus Campground Road, Tom Head, Old Mill Road, Antlers View Road and Toms Head Road. An evacuation center was set up at Central Valley High School. Residents of Gregory Creek Road were advised to shelter in place or go to Gregory Creek Beach.
The evacuation warning for the Lakehead area was for the area east of I-5 to Riverview Drive. An evacuation warning was also issued for Fenders Ferry Road between I-5 and Gilman Road.
Fire authorities throughout California stepped up campaigns urging people not to use fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, citing both the explosive dangers and the threat of wildfires in the withering conditions.
Police, fire and sheriff’s departments across the Bay Area have raised fines and promised increased enforcement against the use of illegal fireworks during the holiday weekend.MORE NEWS: Napa County Officials Issues Order Mandating Facial Coverings Indoors
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