Fire officials called for thousands of evacuations as numerous homes remained threatened by Northern California wildfires today, while more than 9,000 firefighters battled 21 major fires in the state, officials say. Wildfires are also burning in Washington and Oregon as the West Coast suffers the effects of drought and summer heat. The largest California wildfire is raging in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco and nearly tripled in size over the weekend to 84 square miles.
The fire has destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings and is threatening 6,300 homes, many of them ranches scattered in rural areas ranging from grasslands to steep hills. Officials have ordered 12,000 people to evacuate homes, the Sacramento Bee reports. Several roads have been closed. Fire officials "are calling the behavior of this fire unprecedented," a state fire spokesman tells the Bee. "It is jaw-dropping to see some of the things it is doing." The fires have also taken a human toll: One firefighter was killed at the scene of a fire at the Modoc National Forest, 100 miles south of the Oregon border, and four other were burned in a blaze near Sacramento. (Read more California wildfires stories.)