California battling 14 big wildfires; hospital facility is evacuated

Thousands of firefighters on Sunday continued to battle 14 large wildfires – most sparked by lightning strikes – in northern and central California that combined were burning more than 117,000 acres Sunday, officials said.

The Eiler and Bald fires in Shasta County have been burning particularly aggressively, said Dennis Mathisen, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Combined, the two fires have more than quadrupled in size since Saturday morning.

The Eiler fire, which covered 22,788 acres and was not at all contained, destroyed eight residences and on Sunday led to the evacuation of a hospital’s long-term care facility. Mayers Memorial Hospital District’s facility in the town of Burney chose to move its 45 residents – patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other similar conditions – to Redding, about 50 miles away, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The Eiler fire also prompted evacuation orders for the communities of Johnson Park, Cassel and Big Eddie Estates and led to the closure of a stretch of State Route 89.

The Bald fire, covering 34,832 acres and fueled by 6-foot-tall chaparral, was 5 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The Coffee fire, covering 2,000 acres, also was 5 percent contained.

Meanwhile, a blaze that started in Oregon kept pushing south into California. The Oregon Gulch fire ballooned to more than 32,000 acres, 9,100 acres of it in the Golden State.

Firefighters made progress on the Day fire in Modoc County, California’s northeastern-most region. The 12,850-acre blaze – which Cal Fire spokesman Richard Cordova said threatened 150 homes and destroyed five structures – grew only a little bit and was 25 percent contained.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Saturday because of the effects of the fires.

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