2 dead in Northern California wildfires: sheriff

A raging wildfire in northern California has taken a tragic turn as two bodies have been found after the blaze swept through a small town, damaging or destroying around 100 structures, authorities said.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue broke the grim news at a community meeting on Sunday evening, telling residents that the Mill Fire, which has burned more than 4,200 acres near the town of Weed, had kills two.

“It’s one thing to come here and say things to you, but to look at your faces…it almost makes me cry,” LaRue said before pointing out that two people had been killed and asking for a minute’s silence.

The sheriff’s office released a statement Monday morning saying the two deceased were women, ages 66 and 73. The sheriff’s office said the remains were found Friday by first responders within the Weed city limits.

Crime scene tape barricades the area near burnt out cars following the mill fire in Weed, California, September 3, 2022.

Fred Greaves/Reuters

The sheriff’s office did not provide further details of the deaths.

The news came as firefighters appeared to have the factory blaze under control on Sunday while facing new challenges from the Mountain Fire, which is also burning in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border. .

PHOTO: An aircraft drops fire retardant over the Mill Fire on the outskirts of Weed, Calif., September 2, 2022, in this still image obtained from video.

A plane drops fire retardant over the Mill Fire on the outskirts of Weed, California on September 2, 2022, in this still image obtained from video.

Michael Gaio via Reuters

The Mountain Fire, burning in a more remote rural area of ​​Siskiyou County, grew from 6,451 acres Sunday morning to 10,338 acres Monday morning, according to Cal Fire. The Mountain Fire, which was only 10% contained Monday, has forced the evacuation of more than 300 people and threatens about 690 structures, officials said.

Winds on the Mountain Fire’s ridges were of particular concern to firefighters, who feared spreading embers and igniting spot fires, according to Cal Fire’s Sunday update on the blaze.

Firefighters are battling the blazes in a duel in triple-digit heat.

“Weather continues to be hot and dry with low relative humidity recoveries overnight,” Cal Fire said Sunday.

PHOTO: The Mountain Fire burns near the town of Gazelle, Calif., September 2, 2022.

The Mountain Fire burns near the town of Gazelle, California on September 2, 2022.

Fred Greaves/Reuters

The plant fire was 40% contained Monday morning after burning 4,254 acres since it was ignited on Friday, Cal Fire officials said. The latest damage assessment released by Cal Fire said the plant fire destroyed 88 simple structures and damaged 11 others.

Cal Fire officials said firefighters will remain focused on defending structures and expanding containment lines around the two fires.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Siskiyou County to support fire response.

The Mayor of Weed, meanwhile, has reported new details about the Mill Fire, which ripped through his town of more than 2,600 people, injuring several people as they fled the flames and damaging or destroying at least 132 structures, including many houses.

Mayor Kim Greene told ABC News that the factory fire began Friday at a former warehouse of the city’s sawmill, Roseburg Forest Products, which sits near a park and cluster of homes. which she says have almost all been destroyed.

“My co-worker’s husband ran up and said, ‘There’s a fire,'” Greene recalled. “As we step out the front door to see, [there] was just a big puff of black smoke. You could hear the little explosions.”

PHOTO: Dave Rodgers inspects his home, destroyed by the mill fire, Sept. 3, 2022, in Weed, California.

Dave Rodgers inspects his home, destroyed by the mill fire, Sept. 3, 2022, in Weed, California.

Noah Berger/AP

Fanned by 30 mph winds, Greene said the blaze spread quickly, jumped a set of train tracks and swept through a neighborhood.

Green said many people only had minutes to escape. An ABC News crew observed several walkers and wheelchairs abandoned along the streets as people fled for their lives. Many vehicles were charred on the roads and driveways of completely destroyed houses.

The mill fire, according to Cal Fire, prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 people.

Firefighters got a break from high winds Saturday, but high temperatures continue to be a challenge, Cal Fire officials said. The temperature in Redding, northern California, was expected to be 111 degrees on Monday.

Cal Fire Capt. Robert Foxworthy said high temperatures are forcing firefighters to take precautions to protect themselves physically.

“It makes it a little more physically difficult for firefighters working in the field,” Foxworthy told ABC News. “You have them making sure they’re hydrating and making sure they have good rest cycles, making sure these people are getting good meals and good nutrition, so when they go to work on these fires in these conditions, they are the best they can be to deal with these conditions.”

ABC News’ Alex Presha and Alyssa Pone contributed to this report.

ABC News

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