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Nearly Two Dozen Lassen County Homes Destroyed in Beckwourth Complex Fire

BECKWOURTH (AP/CBS13) – Fire officials report that approximately 20 homes were lost to a Northern California wildfire burning through bone-dry timber in Lassen County.

Now considered the largest wildfire of the year in California, the Beckwourth Complex Fire — a combination of two lightning-caused fires burning 45 miles north of Lake Tahoe — showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

After a day and night of explosive growth, the fire burned more than 83,926 acres as of Sunday morning with containment at 8 percent. The U.S. Forest Service said Sunday morning the fire grew to burn approximately 28,000 more acres in the previous 24 hours.

On Saturday, strong winds drove the fire down into the small community of Doyle, triggering a rapid evacuation, the Lassen County Sheriff's Office reported.

The Doyle Fire Protection District estimates 20 homes were destroyed.

Highway 395, which was closed Saturday afternoon due to the flames, reopened just after 9 a.m. Sunday only to close again around 1 p.m. due to the encroaching fire, according to the California Highway Patrol.

On Saturday, it prompted Nevada authorities to evacuate a border-area community Saturday and put others on alert. Evacuations have been very dynamic and changing frequently, with fire departments encouraging residents to check their county's Facebook pages often for the latest information.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Lassen County residents east of Highway 395 near Herlong Access Road, including the town of Herlong, south to the Sierra-Lassen County line and the town of Milford.

Across the Nevada state line Saturday, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office asked people to evacuate a section of Rancho Haven, north of Reno.

Other fires are burning in Oregon, Arizona and Idaho. Authorities say fire conditions are tough as a heat wave engulfs the region with triple-digit temperatures in many areas through the weekend.

In the region between the Oregon border and the northern end of the Central Valley, the big Lava and Tennant fires have been significantly contained, and progress was reported at the Salt Fire as containment improved to 70 percent.

In Oregon, the size of a wildfire burning near Klamath Falls in the southern part of the state more than doubled overnight Friday, the Statesman Journal reported. Officials said the Bootleg Fire now covers 118 square miles as of Sunday morning.

Two firefighters died Saturday after an aircraft they were in to respond to a wildfire crashed in Mohave County, Arizona. The Arizona Bureau of Land Management told KPHO-TV that the aircraft helping perform aerial reconnaissance and command and control over the Cedar Basin Fire burning near Wikieup, a tiny community of about 100, crashed around noon.

Officials say the two crew members on board did not survive. The plane performing aerial reconnaissance helps direct aviation resources responding to a wildfire.

The lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire has burned 300 acres (121 hectares). The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency in the state Friday and mobilized the Idaho National Guard to help fight fires that had sparked across the state after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region.

Fire crews in north-central Idaho were facing extreme fire conditions and gusty winds as they fought two wildfires that threatened homes and forced evacuations in the remote and tiny community of Dixie about 40 miles southeast of Grangeville. Efforts were complicated in part because firefighting resources were stretched thin, fire managers said, and in part because the area has very challenging terrain covered with trees and plants that are dry from the ongoing drought.

The fires near Dixie, covering a combined 21 square miles, were among several that started after lighting storms swept through the region earlier last week.

Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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