By Terry Collins Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Unsettled weather, including possible lightning strikes, may add fuel to an already stubborn wildfire threatening homes in a parched area of Northern California, officials said Sunday.
Crews battling the lightning-sparked blaze burning in steep, rugged terrain near Laytonville in Mendocino County braced for another round of dry lightning and wind, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said.
An evacuation order remains in effect as the fast-moving fire about 160 miles north of San Francisco threatens nearly 60 structures across six communities, CalFire spokesman Brandon Rodgers said Sunday.
Eleven firefighters have been injured, including eight on Friday. All suffered minor injuries or burns, officials said.
More than 2,000 firefighters and a dozen helicopters targeted the blaze that has charred about 12 square miles and is partially contained.
“While we’ve been making some progress, this is a very stubborn fire,” Tolmachoff said. “And we’re not even close to our peak fire season.”
A red flag warning also was issued in the area and the forecast called for a slight chance of thunderstorms, said Jeff Tonkin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Eureka.
The fire is close to the bull’s eye of where the dry lightning may strike, Tonkin said. After Monday, no rainfall is expected in the area for the next seven to 10 days.
“We’ve been in a moderate to severe drought going into the summer, so this was not totally unexpected,” Tonkin said. “It’s just very dry here.”