UPDATE - 9:58 pm: WEED, Calif. — According to a United States Forest Service spokesperson, the Lava Fire is shown to be around 4,000 acres in size based on satellite imagery. The fire crossed Highway 97 earlier Monday, prompting officials to issue evacuation orders. Those can be viewed below. Officials say the fire has grown considerably, driven by wind, heat and drought.
WEED, Calif. — The threat of evacuations in Siskiyou County became a reality on Monday as the Lava Fire roiled and surged, sending a massive plume of brown and grey smoke high into the air.
As of 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening, fire officials had yet to provide an update on the fire's growth or latest movements. But the warnings that did emerge told a story.
The Siskiyou County 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.
Residents were told not to wait, and to evacuate immediately. A Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) was established at Big Springs Elementary School, and people with any questions were asked to call 211.
Transportation officials say that Highway 97 has been closed from I-5 in Weed to the abandoned Juniper Lodge Motel just south of Macdoel. It's likely to remain closed overnight, at the very least.
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. Visible activity from the fire throughout the day suggests that it has continued to grow larger.
Officials remain concerned about the "near-critical" humidity levels, extreme heat, and strong breezes in the fire area, which all could provoke further rapid spread. Crews are working to pen the fire in east of the railroad tracks, south of the 42N15 trail which branches off from Highway 97, and north of a private road.
Fire officials planned to host a Lava Fire community meeting on Monday night at 7 p.m. in the Kenneth Ford Theater at the College of the Siskiyous. California Incident Management Team 14 will provide info on the current status of the Lava Fire and planned courses of action. Face coverings and other COVID-19 regulations are still required at the College.