UKIAH, CBS SF - A wind-whipped fire west of the Mendocino National Forest grew to 4,500 acres Monday, claiming one life, destroying at least 1,500 homes and buildings and forcing thousands to evacuate.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reported that the high winds downed trees and power lines near Hawn Creek Road in Potter Valley at 1:10 a.m.
Shortly thereafter a sheriff’s sergeant on patrol witnessed a ground fire which quickly traveled to the west towards Redwood Valley.
At 10:00 a.m., the sheriff’s office reported, there have been multiple structures destroyed with a reported fatality and numerous injuries as a result of the fire. Deputies also arrested one person who was in the process of burglarizing an evacuated home.
The fast-moving wildfire forced the closure of Highway 101 near Willits. Evacuations had taken place north of School Way, East and West Roads, Tomki to Canyon Road, and Golden Rule and Reeves Canyons.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott says an estimated 20,000 people have been evacuated and a number of residents are missing.
Cal Fire said there were 14 large fires burning in the region.