A California forest fire underwent explosive growth Friday as the area north of Lake Tahoe supported triple-digit temperatures this weekend amid a heatwave in the summer.
The Beckwourth complex’s fire on federal land near the town of Beckwourth caused evacuations, a closure of part of the Plumas National Forest and posed a serious danger to the area’s campgrounds, National Forest Service officials said.
As the fire moved east toward Nevada, officials were considering closing Highway 395, a popular route with tourists heading to Reno, said Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Ashmead. A nearby railroad line was also threatened, spokeswoman Lisa Cox later added.
Several other roads, including State Route 284, were closed due to the fire.
“Yesterday it took a big run,” she said, “and today it has grown even more.”
Containment was limited to 9 percent Friday, and 38,056 acres were burned. A uniquely complex fire was declared on July 4 after Dotta Fire, which started on June 30, and Sugar Fire, which began on July 2, combined. Both were triggered by lightning strikes, federal officials said.
The complex fire nearly doubled by Friday, adding 10,000 acres to its footprint, forest officials reported. Then it added another 14,871 acres in the evening, they said.
The weather forecast was bleak. The National Weather Service reported lightning strikes on the eastern flank of the fire.
“Cloud-to-ground lightning and erratic outflow winds greater than 30 km / h are possible near the complex,” the weather service said in a special weather forecast Friday.
It was 94 degrees Friday in Beckwourth, about 55 miles north of Lake Tahoe. An excessive heat was warning was scheduled to take effect Saturday at. 12 to Monday night.
The warning means “dangerously hot conditions” and temperatures of nearly 100 degrees, the weather service said.
The U.S. Forest Service predicted in an incident report that “fire activity will increase by Saturday.” “The weather is getting warmer and drier with an expected heat wave this weekend,” it said.
The Beckwourth Complex Fire appeared to be the most severe of several brush fires that burned in California on Friday. “Climate change is considered a key driver” for the state’s recent wildfire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said earlier this year.
On Thursday, Gavin Newsom government urged residents on Thursday to cut water consumption by 15 percent amid a drought in the country and far-reaching heat wave.