A massive wildfire raging about 100 miles north of San Francisco, dubbed Rocky Fire, consumed 65,000 acres of land already. So far 24 homes fell victim to the blaze and almost 7,000 more structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
More than 3,200 firefighters are battling the flames aided by over 300 engines and 23 aircraft. Still, the wild fire is just 12 percent contained, based on Tuesday morning data, and the authorities estimate it will take another week to subdue.
Yesterday firefighters set up large backfires to cut the spreading inferno from crossing Highway 20, but as the wind shifted, flying ember set up multiple spot fires on the other side of the highway.
“Firefighters are working aggressively to build control lines and sustain perimeter control,” the department stated on its website. “Terrain is steep and rugged with limited access.”
Backfires are supposed to create a strip of burned land in front of the wildfire, so the main fire doesn’t have enough fuel to cross it. But this time the strategy wasn’t quite successful because the backfires failed to consume bigger bushes.
“The bigger brush was not burning, then the wind changed and the big stuff started burning and carried embers across Highway 20,” Cal Fire Capt. Danny DeViso told SFGate, a sister-site of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Wildfires are a rather common occurrence in California, with thousands igniting every year. The largest one, dubbed Cedar, consumed over 270,000 acres of land, over 2,800 structures, and caused 15 deaths in 2003.
Last year over 600,000 acres fell prey to wildfires in California, a similar number to the year before. The fires cause damages amounting to tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Hundreds of millions more are spent every year to combat the flames.