Rocky Fire jumps containment line, spreads to 65,000 acres

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Fire officials say the Rocky Fire, which is burning in Lake, Colusa and Yolo counties, has spread to 65,000 acres after flames jumped a containment line. (KABC)

Fire officials say the Rocky Fire, which is burning in Lake, Colusa and Yolo counties, has spread to 65,000 acres after flames jumped a containment line.

Dry conditions have fueled the Rocky Fire, which has been described as historic and unprecedented. But fire crews say winds have died down Tuesday morning, which will help to keep the fire from possibly spreading. However, the blaze is still 12 percent contained.

Tensions mounted Monday when flames jumped north across Highway 20, which was serving as a containment line.

Thirteen thousand people were evacuated according to Cal Fire. The blaze has destroyed at least 24 homes and 26 other structures. Nearly 7,000 structures are threathened.

PHOTOS: Smoke from Lower Lake area wildfire seen for miles

"This area has not burned on record before, so the vegetation in some of these areas is very dense," said Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett.

Firefighters say the fire is a product of the drought and is behaving in ways they have never seen before.

"It's unpredictable. It built its own weather," said Cal Fire Capt. Steve Kaufman. "On Saturday night, in the middle of the night, between 9 and midnight, it grew about 20,000 acres in the span of about five hours. We don't normally see fire at nighttime grow that spectacular. It's hard for me to speculate what to expect because we're dealing with conditions we've never seen before."

Southern California firefighters have joined the 3,000 who are fighting this blaze.

The Rocky Fire has closed a popular hunting spot. With deer season opening Saturday, the Knoxville wildlife area is closed to all public use until further notice. People in Spring Valley and the Double Eagle Housing Development could also be in danger if the flames north of Highway 20 get out of hand.

For much of the afternoon Monday, air and ground crews were engaged in a coordinated fight against the Rocky Fire.

South of the fire, nearly 40 people checked into the Red Cross shelter in Middletown Sunday night when evacuation areas were expanded. Some evacuees have been camping out for several days.

Jerri Driver, her husband and her two-week-old foster baby were able to evacuate from their Jerusalem Valley home last week.

"We don't know how long we're going to be out here. We call every day to see if we can go back and everyday and they tell us every day, not yet," Driver said.

They set up their mobile camper with free power and water hook-ups, thanks to the Hidden Valley Lake Community Association.

Kaleena Salsedo evacuated with her parents and seven pets. She said it's a challenge to be away from home so long because the animals are used to running round on their property.

"Yeah, we packed up all our stuff, packed our animals and we had to go because we saw the flames coming, so we were like, yeah we're not going to stay here any longer," Salsedo said.

The Rocky Fire is one of 21 major fires in the state. Wildfires were also burning in Washington and Oregon as the West Coast suffered from the effects of drought and summer heat.

Related Topics:
cal firebrush firefirefightersevacuationnorthern californiawildfiredestroyed homesNorthern California
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