Environment & Science

Rocky Fire: Weather helps crews battling massive California wildfire

Flames from the Rocky Fire approach a house in Lower Lake, Calif., Friday. More than 5,000 firefighters are now battling large blazes in California; hundreds of residents are under evacuation orders in affected areas.
Flames from the Rocky Fire approach a house in Lower Lake, Calif., Friday. More than 5,000 firefighters are now battling large blazes in California; hundreds of residents are under evacuation orders in affected areas.
File photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cooler, wetter weather helped crews make inroads Monday against a massive Northern California wildfire that tore through two dozen homes, threatened thousands more and forced 12,000 people to flee the flames.

The largest blaze in drought-stricken California roughly tripled in size over the weekend to 93 square miles, generating its own winds that spread the flames at an unprecedented rate, officials said.

Lower temperatures and higher humidity allowed firefighters to gain more control in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco, increasing containment after days of stalled efforts, said Capt. Don Camp of theCalifornia Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"We are hoping we only have to deal with winds from the weather instead of the fire creating its own winds," he said.

Numerous other wildfires in California, Washington state and Oregon took off as the effects of drought and summer heat turned the West Coast combustible.

Crews combating the large California blaze created buffers between some homes and the fire at its north end, where many of the 6,300 threatened properties are located in rural areas ranging from grasslands to steep hills.

Twelve thousand people have been forced from their homes or are being advised to leave. The fire has destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings.

"Everyone we know that lives down there, they have nothing anymore. It's just crazy," Nikki Shatter of Clear Lake told KCAL-TV.

Additional fire crews were brought in, bringing the number of firefighters to nearly 3,000. Officials said the blaze showed unprecedented behavior, consuming about 31 square miles in hours.