Dead, Homes Destroyed As Klamathon Fire Rages Out Of Control

Image courtesy Tommy Davis

An 8,000-acre wildfire along the California-Oregon border left one person dead and multiple structures damaged or destroyed, Cal Fire said Friday.

Santa Barbara County officials declared a local emergency on Saturday as a fast-moving wildfire driven by strong winds and triple-digit temperatures destroyed 20 homes and other structures and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.

Total calm Saturday morning replaced the 50 miles per hour (80.5 kph) gusts and forward progress of the fire was stopped at about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) or less, said county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni.

Though officials suspect fireworks, the investigation into the cause of the fire remains active.

Almost 2,500 people in the Cathedral Oaks neighborhood have been evacuated.

What's happened: Firefighters are making progress constructing containment lines around the fire, which hasn't grown in size since Friday morning.

The general evacuation area can be seen above. Courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management.

No other details were released about the death blamed on the fire that threatened 300 homes near Hornbook, a town of 250 people about 22 kilometres south of the OR border.

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In the north, the fire in Siskyou County on the OR border had virtually emptied the tiny communities of Hilt and Hornbrook.

Due to the blaze, the Interstate Five was closed in both directions between Ashland and Yreka, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced.

Firefighters battled destructive fire Saturday that snaked through a hillside area of Goleta, one of several blazes that destroyed homes during a record-setting heat wave in Southern California.

Firefighters also battled blazes in Alpine, Camp Pendleton, the San Fernando Valley, Cajon Pass, Forest Falls and Montecito Heights.

It appears that a house fire spread embers to dry brush, and that ignited an out-of-control blaze, county Sheriff's Department officials said. The wildfire is burning through drought-stricken timber and brush near California's border with OR, authorities said Friday. Traveling at speeds of almost 600 miles per hour, it can reach any fire in the state within 30 minutes. The fire quickly grew to about 1.5 square miles.

Eric Durtschi and his family moved to Santa Barbara County two weeks ago.

The Pawnee Fire, which began which began June 23 and is burning northeast of Clearlake Oaks in Lake County, is 15,185 acres and 95 percent contained.

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