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Two confirmed dead in Mill Fire, approximately 100 homes could be destroyed

Firefighter.jpg
Erik Neumann
/
JPR
A firefighter extinguished hot spots on a burned building in the Lake Shastina community on Saturday.

UPDATED: Sunday, Sept. 4, 10:30 a.m. Two wildfires near Weed, California continued to grow over the weekend, but favorable weather allowed firefighters to begin containment.

The Mill Fire had spread to 4,254 acres on Sunday and is 25% contained, according to CalFire.

Up to 100 homes may have been damaged or destroyed in communities around Weed and Lake Shastina, according to preliminary numbers from Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue on Saturday.

In a community meeting on Sunday night, LaRue confirmed the death of two people from the fire. Their names were not released.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but LaRue said it appears to have started around the Roseburg Forest Products mill site.

"I don't have exact locations, but that's certainly what we've heard," he said.

Growth of the fire slowed over the weekend with decreased wind and more favorable firefighting conditions.

Evacuation orders remain in effect for communities including Weed, Lake Shastina and Edgewood. Grenada, Big Springs and Southern Weed have been downgraded to evacuation warnings. Highway 97 north of Weed remains closed.

An evacuation center is located at the Karuk Wellness Center at 1403 Kahtishraam, Yreka, California 96097.

Around 70 people had evacuated to the center on Saturday, according to Angie Irmer with the Red Cross. The evacuation center is providing cots, showers and food in the area until the demand stops.

Power outages are also reported by Pacific Power in the region. The company had reported nearly 1,300 residents in Mt. Shasta, nearly 1,500 in Lake Shastina and over 2,500 residents in Weed were without power on Saturday.

Pacific Power Spokesperson Brandon Zero said on Saturday that they had restored power to 4,000 residents, including the Mt. Shasta Hospital. Restoration in areas directly impacted by the fire could take longer because of damaged utility lines.

Zero said the utility will be offering billing and payment relief for customers impacted by the fire, including removing charges in areas that are unserviceable.

The Mill fire is reminiscent of another devastating fire in Weed. On September 15, 2014 the Boles Fire destroyed 165 structures in the town of around 2,800 residents. Many residents were also evacuated in the less destructive Lava Fire in 2021.

Mountain Fire

The Mountain Fire, burning west of I-5 surpassed the Mill Fire acreage over the weekend. It has currently burned 8,460 acres as of Sunday afternoon. It is 10% contained.

Evacuation warnings have been issued in areas between Gazelle and Callahan, but the area is significantly less populated than the location of the Mill Fire.

Additional information is available by calling 2 1 1 or visiting the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Facebook page.

This story will be updated.