Environment & Science

Jerusalem Fire erupts near Rocky Fire, forces evacuations

In this file photo, flames from a backfire operation burns through a grove of trees as firefighters try to head off the Rocky Fire on August 3, 2015 near Clearlake, California. The Rocky Fire was 85 percent contained on Monday morning, August 10, 2015, but a new fire that erupted nearby has forced some residents to evacuate again, and the two fires could eventually merge, fire officials say.
In this file photo, flames from a backfire operation burns through a grove of trees as firefighters try to head off the Rocky Fire on August 3, 2015 near Clearlake, California. The Rocky Fire was 85 percent contained on Monday morning, August 10, 2015, but a new fire that erupted nearby has forced some residents to evacuate again, and the two fires could eventually merge, fire officials say.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In this file photo, flames from a backfire operation burns through a grove of trees as firefighters try to head off the Rocky Fire on August 3, 2015 near Clearlake, California. The Rocky Fire was 85 percent contained on Monday morning, August 10, 2015, but a new fire that erupted nearby has forced some residents to evacuate again, and the two fires could eventually merge, fire officials say.
An image shared by CalFire shows a smoke plume from the Jerusalem Fire in Lake County on Sunday, August 9, 2015.
CalFire


Update: 6:55 p.m.: The Jerusalem Fire has now swelled to 14,000 acres, with containment at 5 percent. Additional evacuations have been ordered, but there have been no injuries so far to report and the cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Stacey Nolan of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Previously: A wildfire that broke out several miles southwest of a destructive fire in Northern California doubled in size overnight, charring nearly 8 square miles.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says evacuations have been ordered for the Jerusalem Fire, which started Sunday in Lake County.

The residents told to evacuate had been forced out of their homes on July 31 by the larger Rocky Fire and allowed to return on Thursday when the area was no longer threatened by the flames.

The Rocky Fire is currently the largest in the state, burning across Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

Fire Tracker: Rocky Fire in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties

That fire has destroyed 43 residences, 53 outbuildings and eight other structures and charred nearly 109 square miles since igniting July 29.

The new fire in dense brush and steep terrain exploded quickly Sunday afternoon, charring about 4 square miles. Firefighters and air tankers battling the original fire were reassigned to attack the new blaze. Containment was not in sight Monday morning.

Matt Hughes, a Napa Valley winemaker, told KPCC about how both fires touched his ranch property.

"I kind of walked of out my office and I saw this big, dark cloud and I thought, ‘Wow, rain, this is crazy.' Then I thought, "No, that’s not a rain cloud ... that’s a plume of smoke," said Hughes of his first sight of the Rocky Fire, which he eventually saw trudge away from his ranch. 

Then came the Jerusalem Fire, which forced Hughes and his co-workers to vacate their winery once again.

"It’s kind of just becoming the norm in the morning: Get up, have coffee, check and see if your office is on fire," he told KPCC.

Fire Tracker: Jerusalem Fire in Lake County

The two wildfires will likely merge, according to CalFire Capt. Joe Fletcher.

Fire officials are investigating the causes of both fires.