About 2,000 people were told to evacuate the area where a large fire is burning in Northern California’s Sonoma County on Thursday, as the state remained under high alert for dangerous fire weather.
The Kincade Fire, which started late Wednesday and spread rapidly overnight, had reached more than 10,000 acres and was 0% contained by Thursday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
At an afternoon news conference on Thursday, Cal Fire officials confirmed that some structures had burned but they did not know how many. No injuries had been reported yet.
The fire was blazing just a 30-minute drive north of Santa Rosa, where two years ago this month, a wildfire burned thousands of homes and killed 44 people ― the deadliest wildfire in California at the time. Last November, the Camp Fire hit Paradise, about a three-hour drive north from the current conflagration, and killed 85 people ― making it the deadliest wildfire in state history.
“The sheriff’s office wants to acknowledge that this is an emotional time for many people,” Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick told reporters Thursday afternoon. “It’s only been two years since the fires that devastated our community, and for many, this will be a very stressful and anxious time.”
The National Weather Service has issued a “red flag warning” for high-risk fire conditions in swaths of Northern California and some areas further south. The danger comes from strong winds and low humidity in the region, according to Cal Fire.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Thursday that the state had received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide additional resources to fight the Kincade fire.
The blaze started near areas where the utility PG&E had cut power earlier Wednesday in an attempt at fire prevention, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. These latest electricity cutoffs have affected about half a million residents so far.
Later on Thursday, PG&E revealed to state regulators that a high-voltage transmission tower, which had not yet been turned off, broke near the origin point of the fire about the time the blaze started, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
That does not confirm the transmission tower caused the fire. However, that transmission tower was on when the fire started conflicts with earlier statements PG&E had given the Chronicle.
Earlier this month, three people died and dozens of homes were destroyed in two fires in Southern California. Around the same time in Northern California, public outrage grew as PG&E cut power to an estimated 2 million residents in an effort to prevent fires.
California has been experiencing record-breaking wildfires in recent years. Some of the state’s worst wildfires ― including the Camp Fire ― were sparked by PG&E’s power lines, often when damaged lines came into contact with nearby vegetation.
This article has been updated with information from PG&E.
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