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Rocky Fire Spreads To 18,000 Acres, Evacuation Advisory For Parts Of Clearlake, Lower Lake

LAKE COUNTY (CBS SF) -- The fast-spreading Rocky Fire in Lake County grew to more than 18,000 acres on Friday, prompting authorities to warn more residents on the eastern portion of Clearlake and Lower Lake that they could be evacuated.

According to Cal Fire, the evacuation advisory includes all areas east of Highway 29 at Riata Road and east of Highway 53 north to Highway 20. The evacuation advisory is not mandatory but is strongly recommended.

Residents of the affected areas are asked to gather their medications, pets and important papers and should be prepared to leave with little notice. If evacuated, residents can seek shelter at Middletown High School or Kelseyville High School.

As of Friday afternoon, the fire was only 5 percent contained. Three structures have been destroyed and multiple outbuildings have been destroyed or damaged, according to Cal Fire.

The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday around Morgan Valley Road and Rocky Creek Road, near the town of Lower Lake. The fire quickly grew to more than 8,000 acres by Wednesday night and reached 15,000 acres by Friday.

Firefighter Matthew Esposito shot video of the flames from up close.

Firefighters on the front lines late Friday said it's going to be a long night, as the flames refuse to relent and the wind keeps changing direction.

"It's going to be a matter of following this fire around in kind of a curve and trying to stay ahead of it," Lynne Tolmachoff of Cal Fire told KPIX 5.

At least 650 residents have already been evacuated from their homes as the blaze raged in hills covered in dense brush and oak trees and dotted with ranch homes.

The growth of the flames was detected by satellite.

Cal Fire said Friday that there are more than 1,300 firefighters responding to the Rocky Fire. The California National Guard on Thursday sent a fleet of eight helicopters to back up Cal Fire crews. They are dousing flames with water and will evacuate the injured, and help move around firefighters and their equipment.

As of Friday evening, Cal Fire said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Around the state, 14 large fires, mostly in the scorched northern half of the state, are pushing 7,000 firefighters to their limits as they battle flames amid drought. On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the fires.

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