The largest of over a dozen lightning-caused wildfires in far northern California has now prompted an evacuation order for 325 square miles, in an area of Klamath National Forest, west of Yreka.
The Head Fire grew to 2,700 acres on Tuesday night, prompting the Siskiyou County Sheriff to issue multiple evacuation orders, and current estimates put it between 3,000 and 4,000 acres. As Bay Area News Group reports, the fire is burning just west of the burn scar of the McKinney Fire, which was one of last summer's largest blazes, scorching 60,000 acres and claiming four lives.
The fire reportedly produced a pyrocumulus cloud Tuesday night that was creating its own lightning.
The map below, from Bay Area News Group, shows the evacuation zone in red, with the largest fire icon showing the location of the Head Fire. The red and orange dots are all smaller fires that were also caused by lightning strikes on Monday. These include the named Scott, Elliott, Malone, and Titus fires, which are reportedly between five and 50 acres each.
As the Chronicle reports, thunderstorms were still in the forecast for Wednesday afternoon for Siskiyou County, until 6 p.m.
As KCRA reports, on Tuesday night, "Firefighters were working to protect homes near the confluence of the Scott and Klamath rivers, a very lightly populated area about 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) from the California-Oregon state line and about 50 miles northwest of Mt. Shasta."
There were more small, lightning-caused fires reported Tuesday in Mendocino County, in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and in the Tahoe area, but fire officials said most were quickly contained.
Fire officials say that the Head Fire could worsen today as containment efforts continue.
The National Forest Service is now calling this group of fires the 2023 Klamath National Forest Lightning Complex, and firefighters say that there is still "an extremely dynamic situation across the forest."
Top image via U.S. Forest Service