SHASTA LAKE, Shasta County (CBS SF) -- At least 4,000 people have been forced to evacuate by the growing Fawn Fire burning Shasta County northeast of Redding Thursday, and authorities said a Bay Area woman suspected of starting the fire was arrested.
After initially burning through about 50 acres by early Wednesday evening, the wildfire has exploded to 5,500 acres as of Thursday evening at 7 p.m. It is five percent contained.
Cal Fire said that 25 structures have been destroyed by the wind-whipped wildfire. An additional 2,000 structures are currently threatened by the fire.
The Shasta County Sheriff's Office earlier reported some structures have burned, but did not specify what kind of structures. KCRC-TV reported multiple homes were burning just northeast of Redding in the area of Old Oregon Trail and Sunrise Drive.
The main campus of Shasta College in Redding has cancelled classes on Friday due to the wildfire, school officials said.
The Fawn Fire started Wednesday in the area of Fawndale Road and Radcliff Road about five miles northeast of the city of Shasta Lake, which is just south of Shasta Dam and Shasta Lake reservoir. The fire was burning in steep, rugged terrain and overnight, windy conditions caused the fire to spot in many areas.
Cal Fire said Thursday workers at a nearby quarry reported a woman trespassing and acting irrationally on the quarry property on Wednesday around the time the fire started. Later, as fire crews battled the fire, a woman walked out of the brush near the fire line and approached crews, saying she was dehydrated and needed medical treatment.
After being treated the woman was interviewed by Cal Fire law enforcement officers who determined she was responsible for starting the fire. The woman, identified as 30-year-old Alexandra Souverneva of Palo Alto, was booked at the Shasta County Jail on charges of arson to wildland. The charge also carries an enhancement because of the declared state of emergency California is in because of the fire danger.
The Shasta County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the community of Mountain Gate and evacuation orders were expanded several times Thursday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations now include:
- The community of Mountain Gate
- All roads off of Old Oregon Trail in both directions between Bear Mountain north to Interstate 5
- All roads north of Old Oregon Trail at Akrich north to Pine Grove and east of Interstate 5
- All of Holiday Road south of Old Oregon Trail
- All roads east of Dry Creek along Elk Trail east, north to Shasta Lake, and back down Dry Creek
In addition, an evacuation warning was issued for areas north of SR-299 and east of I-5. Redding police said Code Red notifications were being issued in that area. Residents who choose to evacuate were advised to head towards SR299.
A shelter was set up at the First Church of the Nazarene at 2255 Bechelli Lane in Redding. A temporary evacuation center at the Shasta College parking lot in Redding was closed because the area was also evacuated.
Evacuees were urged to take important belongings, medications, and pets, if possible. Cal OES estimated there have been 2,500 residents evacuated so far because of the Fawn Fire.
In a tweet, the sheriff's office said the fire has forced 4,000 people to evacuate and "affected" 30,000 others, presumably those who are under an evacuation warning.
There were reports that the fire was closing in on the Alert Wildfire camera on Bear Mountain.
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