SUSANVILLE — Firefighters and aircraft were working Wednesday to halt the spread of large forest fires in Northern California as unstable weather brought the risk of gusty winds, thunderstorms and lightning strikes that could start new blazes.
The Gold Fire in northern Lassen County grew to 14,500 acres Wednesday evening from Tuesday's 8,500 acres. It's burning south of the tiny Modoc County community of Adin and was only 10% contained, up slightly from 5% earlier in the day.
Two firefighters were injured at that blaze Monday and were flown to a hospital in Redding, treated and released. There were no details on what happened, said Alisha Herring, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze started at Highway 139 and County Road A-2. Its cause is being investigated.
Evacuation orders are in place for residents in the fire area.
The 9,517-acre Hog Fire in southern Lassen County is burning about five miles west of Susanville.
The National Weather Service has extended a red flag warning through the day until Wednesday evening. Firefighters were told to anticipate heavy winds and dry lightning.
The blaze covers 14.7 square miles and was at 23% containment as of Wednesday evening, up from 9% at the start of the day. It started Saturday at the Hog Flat Reservoir and remained active through Tuesday night.
Crews are working to build containment lines as well as put out the flames. The equipment includes 147 engines, 33 bulldozers and 31 water tenders.
About 170 buildings were threatened and some evacuations are in place.
Residents of Lake Forest Estates and people living on the north and south sides of Highway 36 from A-1 to Willard Creek Road have been ordered to evacuate.
An evacuation center has been set up at Lassen Community College in Susanville.
Technicians have been sent to restore internet and cell service to the community after the fire damaged a fiber optic cable early Monday. The reduction in cell service has been a problem for Susanville residents, the Cal Fire headquarters and the Hog Fire's incident command base.
The fire's cause is under investigation.
These road closures are in effect:
Highway 44 from the junction of Highways 36 and 44 to A-21.
Highway 36 from the junction of Highways 44 and 36 to Westwood.
County Road A-1 from Gallatin Road to Highway 36.
The 340-acre Platina Fire in Shasta County is burning about 21 miles southwest of Redding.
The wildland blaze started before 4 p.m. Sunday at Platina and Big Foot roads, Cal Fire said.
Containment on the fire increased to 75% Wednesday evening, up from 55% on Tuesday.
"Cooler temperatures and decreased fire activity overnight helped firefighters increase and strengthen containment lines," Cal Fire said at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Five firefighters have been treated and released after they suffered minor injuries.
There are no evacuations or road closures due to the Platina Fire, and the blaze has not damaged or destroyed any structures, fire officials said. A total of 341 people are working on the fire.
Fire-fighting equipment includes 34 engines, 10 fire crews, six water tenders and four bulldozers.
The fire's cause is under investigation.
The 557-acre Badger Fire in Siskiyou County is burning about five miles northwest of Yreka.
Containment increased to 55% on Wednesday evening, according to Cal Fire.
All evacuations due to the fire have been lifted. Residents of Hawkinsville had been ordered to leave their homes on Saturday night.
The blaze started Saturday at Badger Mountain and Hawkinsville-Humbug roads. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cal Fire said Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, high winds from thunderstorms passing over the Sierra Nevada created high winds late Tuesday afternoon, and the fire's heat and an updraft created a so-called fire cloud of smoke and ash that reached tens of thousands of feet into the sky, Scott McGuire, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Reno, told SFGate.
Rain and lightning were spotted within the clouds, the paper said.
The weather service issued a red flag warning of extreme fire conditions through Wednesday night. High winds and thunderstorms also were expected Wednesday.
In central California, the week-old Mineral Fire was 70% contained after scorching 46.4 square miles (120 square kilometers) and destroying seven structures in the Diablo Range west of Coalinga.
Several smaller wildfires burned elsewhere.