|Danielle Wilfong captured this picture of flames working up a hillside near Highway 20 and Highway 53 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, August 12, 2012.|
THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL DETAILS ABOUT THE INCIDENTS.
CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – Two wildland fires were reported along Highway 20 east of Clearlake Oaks Sunday afternoon, causing a temporary highway shutdown order and resulting in evacuation orders for some nearby communities.
The fires, one near Walker Ridge and the second at the “Y,” the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 53, were reported shortly before 4 p.m.
Shortly after 5 p.m., Cal Fire reported that the Walker Ridge fire had reached 35 acres and the “Y” fire was 75 acres.
Within a half hour, the “Y” fire was estimated to have hit 300 acres, with the potential to reach 1,000 acres by nightfall.
Northshore Fire, Cal Fire and Lake County Fire responded to the incidents, along with the California Highway Patrol and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. A full wildland response was being sent to the Walker Ridge area, along with air resources.
Significant air resources – including an order for six air tankers and five helicopters – also were being sent to the “Y” area at Highway 20 and 53, where the fire had jumped and was on both sides of the roadway. A Cal Fire strike team from Mendocino County was being requested to respond, according to radio reports.
Structures were reportedly threatened in both areas, with at least one on fire, and at Highway 20 and Highway 53 vehicles also were in the path of the fire, with officials trying to evacuate vehicles from the area.
Radio reports had indicated a woman may have been trapped in her car in the fire’s path, but Northshore Fire Chief Jay Beristianos said she was able to escape.
At around 5 p.m. evacuations were ordered for the Old Long Valley Road and New Long Valley Road areas, as well as Wilbur Hot Springs and some other nearby areas in Colusa County, according to radio reports.
The evacuations were completed by about 5:30 p.m.
A short time later, evacuations were under way in Spring Valley, where ash from the fire was reported to be falling, according to a post on Lake County News’ Facebook page. Lake County Animal Care and Control also was on the way to assist with removing animals, according to reports from the scene.
Beristianos said power lines were down in multiple areas but that was to be expected due to the fire.
Caltrans said shortly after 6 p.m. that there was no estimated time of reopening for the stretch of Highway 20 between Highway 16 and Highway 53 that's closed due to the fires. The agency said it planned to issue an update on road conditions in the area on Monday morning.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
Email Elizabeth Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The fire at Highway 20 and Highway 53 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., on Sunday, August 12, 2012. Photo by Roger Kinney.