Firefighters were hopeful that the state’s largest and deadliest blaze of the year was slowing down after days of explosive growth.
J. J. COOPER | S. THANAWALA
California, US | July 30 T he number of people ordered to flee from two Northern California wildfires swelled Monday to 15,000 as the flames rolled toward several small lake towns, and firefighters were hopeful that the state’s largest and deadliest blaze of the year was slowing down after days of explosive growth.
The twin fires in Mendocino and Lake counties flared up late Sunday, forcing the new evacuations from the 4,700-resident town of Lakeport and other communities near Clear Lake, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) north of San Francisco. The blazes have destroyed six homes and threaten 10,000 others. So far, the flames have blackened 87 square miles (225 square kilometers), with minimal containment.
Those fires were among 17 burning across the state, where fire crews were stretched to the limit.
At midday Monday, Lake County Sheriff’s Lt. Corey Paulich put the number of people under evacuation orders at 14,000, up from a previous estimate of 10,000. Another 1,000 people have been displaced in neighboring Mendocino County.
Paulich said residents have been heeding evacuation orders because they have seen the destruction caused by past wildfires, which have destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least four people since 2015.
To the north, near Redding, California, where an unpredictable blaze killed six people, a man whose wife and two great-grandchildren were among the dead said he did not receive any warning to evacuate.
Ed Bledsoe told CBS News he did not know his home was in danger when he left his wife, Melody, and the 4- and 5-year-old children to run an errand on Thursday.
“If I’d have any kind of warning, I’d have never, ever left my family in that house,”
Bledsoe said. Bledsoe said he received a phone call from his wife 15 minutes after he left saying he needed to get home because the fire was approaching. He said one of the children told him the blaze was at the back door. When he tried to return, the road was blocked and flames prevented him from returning on foot.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told the network there’s an investigation into whether the Bledsoe home received a warning call or a knock on the door. The sheriff said there is evidence that door-to-door notifications were made in the area.