Northern California Lava fire explodes to 13,300 acres, prompting evacuations and threatening marijuana farms
The Lava Fire in northern California exploded more than 12,000 acres Tuesday morning, triggering evacuations and burning brush and timber in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The blaze, burning between the city of Weed and Mt. Shasta, grew from 1,446 acres on Monday to 13,300 acres Tuesday night. It’s 19% contained, said Cal Fire, and about 800 firefighters are battling the blaze.
The Lava Fire is one of several fires ignited by lightning during mountain thunderstorms last Thursday. Two others, the Tennant Fire and Beswick Fire, are not nearly as large. The area had been under a red flag warning because of high wind and low humidity, as well as temperatures ranging from 100 to 110 degrees.
Crews thought they had contained the fire Friday afternoon, but about four hours later, residents saw smoke in the direction of the fire as it reignited, said Todd Mack, Shasta Trinity National Forest Fire Management Officer, during a town hall meeting Monday.
The newly reignited fire popped up outside the fire line, he said.
California “has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from [the Federal Emergency Management Association] to help ensure vital resources to fight the #LavaFire burning in Siskiyou county.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter.
The Sacramento Bee reported that nearly 3,000 people live in Lake Shastina and as many as 8,000 others live in the area to tend to the thousands of marijuana grows.
“All evacuation orders are still in place at this time. We do not know what structures have burned down and the status of many areas,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.
The smoke Tuesday could be seen as far as 100 miles away in Medford, Oregon.
Officers shot and killed a man who pulled a gun as they tried to keep him out of a complex of marijuana farms near the blaze.
The subdivision has been converted into a huge network of marijuana farms mostly run by Hmong and Chinese families. The county has banned large-scale marijuana cultivation but thousands of pot greenhouses have still sprung up.
The blaze comes as the West Coast is battling a deadly drought and heatwave. As of June 28, a total of 4,152 fires have been reported by Cal Fire.