Update, 10 a.m. Wednesday: More than 150 structures have been destroyed in the Boles Fire, burning in the small town of Weed, just south of the Oregon border.
The fire has burned 375 acres and containment remains at 25 percent. Containment numbers have not changed from yesterday in part due to significant winds affecting the area. More winds are expected today as a low pressure system approaches from the California coast.
Cal Fire spokesperson Amy Head says they hope that some residents may be able to return to their homes today.
"The fire has stopped moving," Head said. "There's still a lot of stuff smoking. We really need to make sure that everything is out and that power lines are secured,"
PP&L should have all power restored by the end of the day, she added.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, and a $10,000 reward is being offered for information.
Inspectors have begun assessing the damage from the fire.
Update, 12 p.m. Tuesday: Dennis Mathisen of Cal Fire said firefighters have started to get a handle on the forward progression of the Weed Fire, which is now 28 percent contained. He said we are "definitely not out of the woods yet." But if the wind doesn't take a turn for the worse this afternoon, the firefighting effort should be in decent shape.
About 100 structures, most of them homes, have been destroyed in Weed. One estimate makes that out to be a quarter of the town, though that's not official. Here is a list of organizations helping victims of the fire. The elementary school, at least, is standing, reports the Redding Record Searchlight.
Steve Killgore, vice president of sales and marketing at the big employer in Weed -- the Roseburg forest products company -- told KQED's Isabel Angell that damage to its main manufacturing complex was minimal. Still, the business does not yet have a time frame for reopening. The company was looking into ways to help the town recover, Killgore said.
Here is the latest full update from AP:
Aided by calmer winds and another day of fire-retardant bomber sorties, firefighters mopped up Tuesday around the smoldering remains of 100 structures, most of them homes, after a wind-driven wildfire raced through a hillside neighborhood and forced more than 1,000 people to flee this small town near the Oregon border.
As crews put out remaining embers, the people of Weed wandered through scorched neighborhoods covered in pink fire retardant that had been dropped by firefighting airplanes, taking photos and video. More planes roared overhead.
Some homes were burned to the ground, with only chimneys left standing. Broken water pipes spurted over the blackened landscape. The remnants of the Holy Family Catholic Church were still smoking, marked by twisted metal girders lying on the ground. Across the street, the Presbyterian Church also burned.
The fast-moving blaze, which began Monday, was among nearly a dozen wildfires burning in California that have been exacerbated by the state's third straight year of drought. The tinder-dry conditions have sent firefighters scrambling from blaze to blaze, almost nonstop.
Two fires, one near Yosemite National Park in central California and another east of Sacramento, also led hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.
In Weed, residents said they had just minutes before the flames engulfed them. Dan Linville and his son were sitting in their living room when they smelled smoke. Looking outside, they saw a black cloud coming over the hills.
A mere 10 minutes later, the wildfire driven by fierce winds raced through their neighborhood, missing them by three houses and torching a roof across the street.
No deaths or injuries were reported, but the Linvilles figure a quarter of the town burned.
"It's horrible," said Linville, 80. "I've got tears in my heart for all these people that I know who lost their homes."
Fire crews had a handle on the 375-acre fire Tuesday morning after it showed little growth overnight. It was 20 percent contained.
This scenic town of nearly 3,000 near the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains had been under siege from the blaze. The fire erupted south of Weed, and winds gusting up to 40 mph pushed it into town, where flames mowed through a hillside neighborhood.
Parts of the town's wood-products mill also caught fire.
"It ran basically right through the east side of town. At the peak, essentially the entire town was evacuated," state fire spokesman Robert Foxworthy said.
Blowing embers started fires as much as a half-mile ahead of the fire front, and 1,500 to 2,000 people were told to evacuate, said Allison Giannini, spokeswoman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department.
The winds began to ease late in the day, and the fire's pace slowed. Winds were expected to be calmer on Tuesday.
When the fire alarm went off at Weed High School, students thought they were shuffling to the campus baseball field for a fire drill.
"We eventually got out there and saw a big cloud of smoke," freshman Violet Carter said. "That whole hill was on fire."
Randy Coates, who rushed to pick up his daughter when the high school was evacuated, said he saw the town's Catholic and Presbyterian churches, houses and backyards on fire. Driving by the wood-products mill, he saw piles of wood chips burning.
Weed, historically a lumber town, was named after the founder of a mill, Abner Weed, who "discovered that the area's strong winds were helpful in drying lumber," according to the town's website.
Meanwhile, firefighters were trying to gain better access to two raging wildfires that broke out Sunday, including one in central California that destroyed 61 structures — 33 of them homes.
The fire near a foothill community south of an entrance to Yosemite National Park burned 320 acres, and it was 40 percent contained. About 600 residents from 200 homes remained evacuated, Madera County sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.
The fire started off a road outside of Oakhurst, near Yosemite, and spread to Bass Lake, a popular year-round destination. Its cause was under investigation.
The blaze is the latest to hit the area, which is still reeling from another fire near downtown Oakhurst that destroyed eight structures earlier this summer.
"I really feel for this community, which has already been through a lot," state fire spokesman Dennis Mathisen said. "This is yet another example of how the damaging effect of this drought has impacted California."
Farther north, a wildfire about 60 miles east of Sacramento forced the evacuation of 133 homes. El Dorado County sheriff's officials said residents of an additional 406 homes were being told to prepare to flee.
More than 1,500 firefighters battled the blaze, which started in a remote area Saturday but exploded Sunday when it reached a canyon of thick, dry brush. It grew rapidly and by Tuesday morning had burned through more than 18 square miles. It was only 5 percent contained.
Update, 10:50 a.m. Tuesday: Update on evacuation orders in the area. Carrick residents can go back only into the Carrick area, Cal Fire says. Evacuation orders for the Hoy Road and the Angel Valley area are still in effect. Some residents in the downtown area of Weed have been able to return.
Update, 9:40 a.m. Tuesday: The latest in on the Boles Fire from Cal Fire: 375 acres burned and 20 percent containment. ""We got a pretty good grip on it last night, but with the wind kicking up like this, things could always happen," Cal Fire spokeswoman Amy Head told the Chronicle this morning .
Local station KRCR is reporting mandatory evacuations were lifted in Lake Shastina and Carrick last night, attributing the update to Mount Shasta police, but the Cal Fire website says they are still in place as of this morning. We are trying to clarify.
As of 8:30 a.m., Pacific Power reports about 434 customers are still without power, way down from 7,679. Local media are reporting I-5 has reopened. Highway 97 near Weed was still closed as of early this morning.
From the Redding Record Searchlight today:
"It's pretty devastating," Vice Mayor Ken Palfini, a Weed resident for about 38 years, said this morning. "Whole neighborhoods are no longer with us."
Palfini, an insurance agent, said city officials and others are being briefed early this morning about the extent of the fire, the damage it caused and other details.
So far, he said, he has not heard reports of anyone being hurt in the fire, but added some parts of the city where it ripped through are still inaccessible.
And this eyewitness account from the Chronicle:
"It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen to hit town," (Weed resident Dale) Anzo said. "It looks like a bomb went off in the middle of it. The Catholic church burned, the machines at the mill burned, the house of my neighbors burned. ... It's terrible."
Images from KRCR here. Updates on the fire and more photos, including some from residents, on Twitter.
Update, 9:15 p.m. Monday: Cal Fire says the Boles Fire has burned 350 acres and more than 100 homes in the town of Weed, north of Mount Shasta. The fire agency says the blaze is 15 percent contained.
The Redding Record-Searchlight, via Redding.com, quotes Cal Fire officials as saying aircraft had created a retardant line around the blaze and were hoping that would contain the fire overnight. Firefighters were also getting a break from the weather, as winds that had gusted to over 40 mph during the afternoon calmed after dark.
MtShastaNews.com reports that most of Weed was still without power after nightfall.
Update, 6:20 p.m.: One small update: Cal Fire is now reporting the Boles Fire is at 300 acres and 15 percent containment.
California Highway Patrol dispatch records suggest that one neighborhood hard hit by the fire was the Angel Valley area just north and east of central Weed.
Original post: A wildfire racing into the town of Weed, in Siskiyou County just north of Mount Shasta, has burned scores of homes, engulfed a lumber mill that's one of the area's main employers and forced the evacuation of much of the town of 3,000.
Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the Boles Fire, which started just after 1:30 p.m. Monday, has burned more than 200 acres and has destroyed 75 homes. Berlant said between 1,500 and 2,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes. Some residents were forced from homes in the nearby communities of Carrick and Lake Shastina.
Firefighters quoted in news reports say that high winds have thrown embers across the rapidly advancing fire front, creating hundreds of spot fires. The rapid spread of the blaze prompted the California Highway Patrol to close Interstate 5 between Highway 89, south of Mount Shasta City, and the southern edge of Yreka -- a stretch of about 20 miles. The freeway apparently reopened just before 6 p.m.
Here's the reporting we're seeing from Northern California news outlets:
UPDATE: 5:42 P.M. Firefighters are estimating the Boles fire, which started in Weed and is burning north of town, is about 15 percent contained.
UPDATE: 5:13 p.m. Winds are creating "hundreds" of spot fires north of Weed, and firefighters are planning to call for evacuations north to Edgewood and as far north as Lake Shastina.
UPDATE: 4:20 p.m. Firefighters said "we're probably in excess of 100 structures lost." They're hoping to hold the fire from structures on California Street east of Center Street. The homes to the west are burning.
UPDATE: The town's mill is on fire, both outbuildings and the main building. The fire has burned part of the main building, though firefighters hope to save it, as it's the major employer in the area.
Firefighters are also concerned about the elementary school in the area.
KRCR-Channel 7 (Redding/Red Bluff/Chico):
A wildfire near Weed, Calif. has damaged or destroyed 75 structures and is causing evacuations of the communities of Weed, Lake Shastina and Carrick Monday according to CAL FIRE. The Roseburg Mill, Weed High School and Weed Elementary School have also been evacuated.
An evacuation center has been set up at the Siskiyou County fair grounds in Yreka.