SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory - High Wind Warning - Flash Flood Watch - Flood Watch View Alerts

Lava Fire evacuation order inflames tensions around Mount Shasta Vista Subdivison

The fire has burned 24,460 acres and is 26% contained.

Posted: Jul 2, 2021 8:19 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2021 11:14 AM

BIG SPRINGS, Calif. — When the Lava Fire made a big push to the north on Monday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office issued a flurry of evacuation orders stretching from the outskirts of Weed nearly to the community of Big Springs north of Lake Shastina.

Evacuees from Lake Shastina and Carrick received the go-ahead to return home on Thursday night — good news for many people displaced by the fire earlier this week.

"It's just pure relief . . . yeah," said Richard Lee Shin, who had to evacuate his home earlier on Monday. "And this was the third time for me. Like I say, two floods and then you get back in your house was not flooded. And then you get back and your house was not burned down and your community wasn't burned down. It's all good."

For residents like Shin, evacuations are a familiar and necessary evil. But in some areas, the evacuation orders have inflamed already-simmering tensions between Siskiyou County's Hmong and Chinese communities and County authorities, recalling recent battles over illegal marijuana grows and water rights.

While details on the case remain slim, evacuations near the Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision on Monday were punctuated by a deadly officer-involved shooting after a man tried to enter the area against officers' orders and pointed — possibly fired — a handgun at them, according to a Sheriff's Office statement. Officers shot and killed the man.

Russell Mathis owns a plot within Mount Shasta Vista, and he says that he's been in contact with members of the Hmong community there — many of whom stayed behind to either save their property or because they didn't have the means to leave.

With bulk deliveries of water already strictly enforced over the last few months and the arrival of extreme heat and fire over the past few days, Mathis says that the Hmong are desperate for water, and enforcement of the evacuation order is keeping them from moving freely in and out of the subdivision.

"There are some people in here who don't have cars — they didn't leave," said Mathis. "And right now they're calling me and asking if I can bring them water . . . and of course, I asked for water for the community and they won't even give us bottled water, which I kind of feel like is cruel at this point."

Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue doesn't agree with this characterization of the situation in Mount Shasta Vista.

"The folks that we see have plenty of bottled water, and those questions are actually being asked out there," LaRue said, pointing to the Red Cross and other emergency resources in the area. "It's just not how the system is designed, and it's not designed to hurt anybody . . . we open [the shelters] up so people can get all that stuff."

Residents who stayed in the subdivision have hampered firefighting efforts, LaRue said. According to the Sheriff, some fire crews have reported people throwing rocks or building roadblocks.

"When people fail to evacuate, what they're essentially doing is . . . you know, they're on their own," said LaRue. "And if they don't have water or food and what-not . . . I mean, in a sense they're doing that to themselves because they don't have to be there. That's why we have these shelters open."

Mathis and other members of the community don't think this is a good enough response.

"We're not asking you to bring a water tender in," said Mathis. "We're asking to bring some cases of water to drink at this point. Unless he changes his narrative a little bit and meets halfway, this community is never going to get along."

LaRue says that the evacuation order covering the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision will not be lifted until fire crews can put out hot spots in the area and until utility companies make sure that power has been restored. Fire officials say that this work is underway, but there's no estimated time for when residents can move freely through the area again.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4848946

Reported Deaths: 71328
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148303126527
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3666614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 56°
Brookings
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 56°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 56°
Klamath Falls
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Wet and very windy weekend in progress
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events