WEED, Calif. — The Lava Fire continued its relentless growth in Siskiyou County on Tuesday, according to the latest update from forestry officials — continuing its northward reach toward communities in the Juniper Valley area while also spreading south along the slopes of Mount Shasta.
Containment of the fire, which remained at 20 percent for the past several days, slipped down to 19 percent on Tuesday.
Most of the successful containment work has occurred near the city of Weed, where fire crews have dug in to protect the town from any westward expansion of the fire. Lines there are now tied into Highway 97, and further lines have been built to protect the Lake Shastina community.
The Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision, where the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office says a man was killed in an officer-involved shooting during Monday's evacuations, now sits roughly between two long limbs of the fire that crossed Highway 97 — held almost as if in the claw of a lobster. Fire officials noted some progress building lines on the southernmost protrusion.
The Lava Fire exploded in size throughout Monday, fueled by strong and erratic winds amid record heat. Fire officials confirmed that the fire made a significant run to the north, crossing Highway 97 and frustrating attempts by fire crews to keep the fire hemmed in south of that line.
During Monday's activity, the Sheriff's Office issued evacuation orders for a number of areas, starting with residents on the north side of Hoy Road, north along Highway 97 to County Road A-12, and the communities of Lake Shastina and Juniper Valley off Big Springs Road from Highway 97 to McDonald Lane on both east and west sides of Big Springs Road.
Within an hour, the agency issued a second round of mandatory evacuations covering the Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision, County Road A-12 north and south, Harry Cash Road, and 4 Corners to Hart Road.
Highway 97 is now closed from I-5 in Weed all the way to the Oregon border near Dorris, according to Caltrans.
The Lava Fire was originally one of four fires sparked by last week's thunderstorms. Though fire crews managed to quickly find and contain the other three, the Lava Fire continued to grow within the rough, rocky terrain about 3.5 miles northeast of Weed and southeast of Lake Shastina.
On Sunday morning the fire was mapped at 220 acres with 25 percent containment, but it continued to spread rapidly amid the record heat. As of Monday morning, officials said that the fire covered roughly 1,446 acres with 20 percent containment.
Officials remain concerned about the very low humidity levels, extreme heat, and strong breezes in the fire area, which all could provoke further rapid spread.