CalFire via AP
SAN FRANCISCO — Destructive California wildfires driven by intense winds caused damage at two mobile home parks, destroying some trailers, and one person suffered burns, officials said.
The fires on Monday also toppled trees, whipped up blinding dust clouds and forced a utility to cut power to thousands of customers in an effort to prevent wildfires.
Although the winds were easing on Tuesday, about 30 structures were destroyed Monday afternoon when wind-driven flames roared through the Rancho Marina RV Park in Sacramento County, River Delta Fire District Deputy Chief Hugh Henderson told ABC10-TV. No injuries were reported and the cause remained under investigation.
In San Joaquin County, a man suffered burns and about five mobile homes were damaged by flames that raced through the Islander Mobile Home Park, Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Josh Capper told Fox40-TV.
The injured man suffered severe third-degree burns over most of his body, Capper said.
On the south Santa Barbara County coast, more than 200 firefighters battled the Alisal Fire, which had scorched more than 12 square miles and remained completely uncontained.
The fire erupted Monday afternoon on a ridge and blasted down toward the ocean, forcing closure of U.S. 101, the only major highway on that section of the coast. Evacuation orders were issued for several areas of the lightly populated region.
“The fire is burning in dense chaparral and is being pushed by strong winds and growing at a rapid rate of speed,” a fire update said Tuesday. Gusts reached 70 mph in some areas, officials said.
The winds arrived Monday as a low-pressure system moved from Oregon toward the Great Basin. Red flag warnings for critical fire danger remained in effect Tuesday for much of the interior of Northern California, with lesser wind advisories continuing in Santa Barbara County.
In anticipation of the wind event, the Pacific Gas & Electric utility shut off power to about 24,000 customers in targeted areas of 23 counties to prevent fires from being started if gusts damaged electrical equipment.
PG&E said Monday night that its meteorologists had begun issuing “all-clear” advisories for portions of the areas affected by the public safety power shutoff and crews were patrolling de-energized lines to check for damage before restoring electricity.
PG&E equipment was blamed for a 2018 fire that wiped out most of the town of Paradise in Butte County. The company filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. PG&E also faces numerous criminal charges for fires caused by its fraying equipment, including involuntary manslaughter charges filed last month in connection to a wildfire near the city of Redding last year that killed four people.
Windy weather is a nightmare for firefighters in a state where heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have left forests and brush tinder-dry. Fires that began in late summer are still burning after destroying hundreds of homes.
In the Sierra Nevada, the KNP Complex fire that may have burned hundreds of giant sequoias was only 30% contained. On Monday, a firefighter was struck by a rolling rock. The firefighter was airlifted to a hospital and is in stable condition, fire officials said.