UPDATE: Mill Fire explodes to 3,921 acres with no containment, Mountain Fire at 600 acres

Redding Record Searchlight

UPDATE: Mill Fire explodes to 3,921 acres with no containment, Mountain Fire at 600 acres

David Benda, Michele Chandler, Jessica Skropanic and Jenny Espino, Redding Record Searchlight

September 3, 2022

The fast-moving Mill Fire erupted on Friday near the area of the Roseburg Forest Products mill in Weed, a small city just over 50 miles from the Oregon border. 

There were reports of burn victims and destroyed homes in a neighborhood. Thousands were forced to leave their homes in the communities of Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood.

We’ve made these updates free to readers as an important public service to our North State communities. If you are able, help local journalism thrive by subscribing to your local newspaper, and check back here for updates.

10:20 p.m.: Mill Fire still growing, with no containment

Cal Fire on Friday night said sensor aircraft estimated the size of the Mill Fire to be 3,921 acres, roughly 1,300 acres more than fire officials believed earlier in the evening.

The fire, first reported at 12:49 p.m. on Friday, broke out at Woodridge Court and Woodridge Way, near the area of the Roseburg Forest Products mill in Weed. The Cal Fire-Siskiyou Unit via Twitter said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Evacuations in Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood remain in place and Highway 97 remains closed.

8:40 p.m.: Mountain Fire doubles in size, Mill Fire unstable, Sheriff’s Office said

The Mountain Fire grew to 600 acres, twice its size two hours ago, according to Cal Fire.

Both the Mill Fire and Mountain Fire remain uncontained, according to Cal Fire.

“This incident (Mill Fire) is rapidly changing and our staff and partners are doing everything they can to get everyone to safety,” the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office posted information to help those unable to reach family and friends in evacuation areas. They can call 530-842-8746.

An evacuation shelter is in use at the Yreka Community Center at 810 North Main St. in Yreka.

For information on evacuation zones go to www.zonehaven.com.

8:15 p.m.: Help available for animals in fire evacuation zones

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is offering animal welfare checks for people who had to evacuate from Mill and Mountain fire areas without their pets or livestock.

Evacuees can go to the Siskiyou County website at bit.ly/3Qc9Hsf and fill out a form to request a welfare check.

6:50 p.m.: Mill Fire explodes Friday afternoon

The Mill Fire exploded in size to 2,580 acres — up from 900 acres at 3 p.m., according to Cal Fire.

There is no containment on the fire, burning north of Weed near Lake Shastina.

The blaze damaged and destroyed multiple structures, including homes, but Cal Fire has not yet released the total number of structures.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Cal Fire said.

6:30 p.m.: Mountain Fire grows to 300 acres

The Mountain Fire burned 300 acres of forest eight miles southeast of the small town of Gazelle, according to Cal Fire.

It is not contained, Cal Fire said.

The fire started before 4 p.m. near China Mountain Road, west of Interstate 5, north of Weed.

5:30 p.m.: Some tankers being sent to nearby Mountain Fire

While firefighters continue to battle the Mill Fire burning in the area of Weed and Lake Shastina, six air tankers are being diverted to a second fire that started about an hour ago in the area of Gazelle.

The Mountain Fire is burning in heavy brush on the west side of Interstate 5 north of Weed. Firefighters there have reported that no structures are threatened.

5 p.m.: Wind pushing fire over dry hot terrain

Firefighters continue to battle strong winds while they fight the Mill and Mountain fires.

Those conditions won’t change until Friday night, said Jay Stockton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford. Weather conditions are ripe for fires to continue spreading until 11 p.m.

Friday afternoon, strong southeast winds blew up to 24 mph, with 36 mph gusts, Stockton said. Temperatures reached 98 degrees in Weed and brush is incredibly dry: 5% humidity.

“That combination of windy and dry is what’s creates conditions for rapid fire growth,” he said.

A red flag warning is in effect until 11 p.m. Friday, at which time the winds should calm down, Stockton said. Temperatures should cool to the mid-50s, increasing moisture in the air.

All that could help firefighters get a better handle on the fires, he said.

4:14 p.m.: Power outage reported in Weed, Mount Shasta, Lucerne

About 8,300 residents in Weed and Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County and Lucerne in Lake County were hit by a power outage shortly before 1 p.m. on Friday, according to electric power company PacifiCorp.

A cause of the outage is under investigation, said company spokesman Brandon Zero. Crews have been dispatched to the area, he said.

A smoke plume from the Mill Fire rises over downtown Weed on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.
A smoke plume from the Mill Fire rises over downtown Weed on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.
3:55 p.m.: Fire threatening Carrick outside Weed

Firefighters are communicating to each that the fire is threatening to jump Highway 97 and burn into the small community of Carrick just outside Weed.

3:20 p.m.: Mill Fire balloons to 900 acres

The Mill Fire burning north of Weed toward Lake Shastina is now more than 900 acres, Cal Fire reports.

Firefighters are asking for all strike teams to come to the Jackson Ranch Road area. Earlier, the fire jumped Jackson Ranch Road and started burning into Lake Shastina.

Currently, there is no containment.

All zones east of Interstate 5 from Weed to county road A12, south of county road A12 from Grenada to Highway 97, west of Highway 97 from A12 to I-5, Cal Fire said.

There is an evacuation Shelter at the Karuk wellness center in Yreka at 1403 Kahtishraam.

Meanwhile, all remaining Weed High School students were bussed to Mt. Shasta High School for pick up, officials said.

2:50 p.m.: Fire burning into Lake Shastina

The Mill Fire has jumped Jackson Ranch Road and is burning into the community of Lake Shastina, which is north of Weed, crews battling the blaze report. Firefighters also have asked for at least five more strike teams to help fight the fire.

Meanwhile, a temporary evacuation center is being set up at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka, according to scanner reports.

2:45 p.m.: Mill Fire grows to 555 acres

The communities of Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood are under evacuation orders as of 2 p.m. Friday due to the Mill Fire, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff Office’s Facebook page.

Residents in those areas are asked to leave immediately.

Use caution, as emergency vehicles are assisting with evacuations, structure protection and fire suppression efforts. For more information, call 2 1 1. Real-time evacuation zone statuses are available on aware.zonehaven.com.

The Mill Fire near Weed has grown to 555 acres since first being reported on Friday afternoon, officials said.

The wildfire broke out the same day that the area was under a red flag warning due to high temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity. The chance of rain in the area remains in the single digits through Tuesday.

The wind was blowing north at 20 mph in the Weed and Lake Shastina areas on Friday afternoon, according to Windfinder.com.

Southerly winds of about 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph, could emerge through Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The Mill Fire as seen from Interstate 5. The fire started on Friday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2022.
The Mill Fire as seen from Interstate 5. The fire started on Friday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2022.

Saturday’s forecast calls for sun with widespread haze and a high near 89. Calmer winds becoming northwest at between 5 to 8 mph are expected in the afternoon, according to the weather service.

Pacific Power had not reported any outages in greater Weed as of mid-afternoon on Friday.

1:55 p.m.: Students to stay on campus

Firefighters battling the Mill Fire are recommending not to release students at Weed High School. They are asking the students to stay on campus for now, according to scanner reports.

Meanwhile, mandatory evacuations are being called for all residents east of Interstate 5 to Jackson Ranch Road. Firefighters say the blaze has reached Jackson Ranch Road.

Also, all of Lake Shastina is under a mandatory evacuation order.

Evacuation warnings are in place along Highway 97 in the Mt. Shasta Vista neighborhood.

1:49 p.m.: Evacuations ordered

Evacuation orders have been issued in the community of Weed due to a fire that started Friday afternoon in the area of Roseburg Forest Products mill.

Highway 97 is closed from the junction of Highway 265 in Weed to south of Macdoel due the Mill Fire, the California Department of Transportation said.

Firefighters are also asking for Jackson Ranch Road to be closed so residents who are evacuating in that area have a clear route out of the neighborhood, according to emergency scanner reports.

The fire also has reached Hoy Road.

Firefighters report that traffic in the area is backed up due to all the evacuations.

At least one ambulance has been dispatched to treat a burn victim and a medical triage has been set up to treat other burn victims, scanner reports said.

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.