Worst Fire Conditions ever Threaten Homes along the West Coast

September 16th, 2014-

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Photo:This Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 photo shows fire as it approaches the shore of Bass Lake, Calif. Crews are attempting to get better access to two raging wildfires in California Monday that have forced hundreds to evacuate their homes. (AP Photo/YosemiteLandscapes.com. Darvin Atkeson )

WEED, Calif. (AP) — A fire driven by fierce winds raced through a small town near the Oregon border on Monday, burning a church to the ground, damaging or destroying 100 homes and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,500 people, authorities said.

This tiny town near the base of Mount Shasta in the Cascade Mountains was under siege from a 350-acre blaze that surged toward and through it through timberland.

The town sawmill caught fire, and a Catholic church was destroyed.

The blaze erupted at around 1:30 p.m. south of Weed, a scenic town of nearly 3,000 located about 50 miles south of the Oregon border and about half way between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

Farther north, a wildfire about 60 miles east of Sacramento forced the evacuation of 133 homes. El Dorado County sheriff`s officials said residents of an additional 406 homes were being told to prepare to flee.

More than 800 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started in a remote area Saturday but exploded Sunday when it reached a canyon full of thick, dry brush. It more than doubled in size to nearly 13 1/2 square miles, and was only 5 percent contained.

A fire crew was forced to deploy a fire shelter on Monday, and no major injuries were reported in the incident, Berlant said.

In Southern California, a fire that forced the evacuation of 200 homes in Orange County`s Silverado Canyon over the weekend was started by the sun`s rays reflecting off sheet metal that edged a homeowner`s backyard garden, officials said Monday.

The 2-foot-tall metal fencing surrounded a vegetable garden and was intended to keep small rodents out, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said. The sheet metal ignited a wooden border and nearby grass and then spread.

The homeowner will not be charged or fined for the accidental blaze, Concialdi said.

Evacuation orders were lifted late Sunday as the fire is 80 percent contained. The fire started Friday and grew to 1.5 square miles, the U.S. Forest Service said. -(AP)

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