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Mendocino Official Fears 'Multiple Fatalities' In Redwood Complex Fire

UKIAH (CBS SF) -- A wind-whipped fire west of the Mendocino National Forest grew to 10,000 acres Monday, claiming one life, seriously injuring two, destroying numerous homes and forcing evacuations in Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, authorities said.

Mendocino County Sheriff Office Spokesman Captain Gregory L. Van Patten told KPIX 5 he was anticipating "multiple fatalities" as crews went through the rubble.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, Cal Fire said the fire had grown to 19,000 acres from the 10,000 that had been reported earlier in the day. There was no containment.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that high winds downed trees and power lines near Hawn Creek Road in Potter Valley at 1:10 a.m.

Shortly thereafter the a sheriff's sergeant on patrol witnessed a ground fire which quickly traveled to the west towards Redwood Valley.

At 10 a.m., the sheriff's office reported, there have been multiple structures destroyed with a reported fatality and numerous injuries as a result of the fire. Deputies also arrested one person who was in the process of burglarizing an evacuated home.

The fast-moving wildfire forced the closure of Highway 101 near Willits. Evacuations are in place for areas of Potter Valley, the community of Redwood Valley and Golden Rule.

High winds are hindering firefighting efforts. Cell service in the Potter Valley, Willits and Redwood Valley areas has been disrupted.

An evacuation center had been set up at Willits High. The Willits High School Farm and Willits Rodeo Grounds were also accepting animals.

The Sheriff's office was continuing to assist with mandatory evacuations and responding to assist residents who are unable to self-evacuate.

A total of 410 firefighters were battling the blaze with 26 fire engines, one helicopter and five air tankers.

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