CalFire via AP
SAN FRANCISCO – Destructive forest fires in California caused by high winds caused damage to two mobile home parks, destroying some trailers and one person was burned, officials said.
Monday’s fires also knocked over trees, raised blinding dust clouds and forced a utility to cut power to thousands of customers in a bid to prevent wildfires.
Although the winds calmed down on Tuesday, around 30 structures were destroyed Monday afternoon when wind-induced flames roared through the Rancho Marina RV park in Sacramento County, ABC10-TV told ABC10-TV River Delta Fire District Deputy Chief Hugh Henderson. No injuries were reported and the cause remains under investigation.
In San Joaquin County, a man was burned and about five mobile homes were damaged by the flames that swept through Islander Mobile Home Park, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Josh Capper told Fox40-TV.
The injured man suffered severe third-degree burns over most of his body, Capper said.
On the south coast of Santa Barbara County, more than 200 firefighters battled the Alisal blaze, which had burned more than 12 square miles and remained completely uncontrolled.
The blaze erupted on a ridge on Monday afternoon and struck the ocean, forcing the closure of US 101, the only major highway in this section of the coast. Evacuation orders have been issued for several areas of the sparsely populated region.
“The fire is burning in a dense chaparral and is driven by strong winds and is growing at a rapid rate,” a blaze update said on Tuesday. The gusts reached 70 mph in some areas, officials said.
The winds arrived Monday as a low pressure system moved from Oregon to the Great Basin. Red flag warnings for a critical fire danger remained in effect Tuesday for much of the northern California interior, with lesser wind advisories continuing in Santa Barbara County.
In anticipation of the wind event, the Pacific Gas & Electric utility shut off power to approximately 24,000 customers in targeted areas in 23 counties to prevent fires from starting if gusts damaged electrical equipment.
PG&E said on Monday evening that its meteorologists had started issuing “quite” advisories for parts of areas affected by the public safety power outage and that crews were patrolling the de-energized lines to check for damage before restoring electricity.
PG&E equipment was blamed for a fire in 2018 that wiped out much of the town of Paradise in Butte County. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter. PG&E also faces multiple criminal charges for fires caused by its unraveling equipment, including manslaughter charges filed last month in connection with a wildfire near the town of Redding last year which killed four people.
Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and historic drought linked to climate change have dried up forests and brush. The fires that started in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.
In Sierra Nevada, the KNP complex fire that may have burned hundreds of giant sequoias was only 30% contained. On Monday, a firefighter was struck by a rolling stone. The firefighter was airlifted to a hospital and is in stable condition, firefighters said.