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Hundreds evacuated as Tennant, Lava fires rage in Siskiyou County

USFS photoThe Lava fire, burning outside of Weed, California, had grown to 17,591 acres by Wednesday morning.
USFS photoThe Tennant fire burning along Highway 97 near Tennant, California,, had grown to 8,159 acres by Wednesday morning.
State of emergency issued in Oregon because of warm, dry conditions

Firefighters continued Wednesday to battle two fast-growing wildfires in Northern California’s Siskiyou County, with hundreds of people evacuated and triple-digit temperatures adding to the difficulty facing emergency crews.

The Tennant fire, located near the junction of Tennant Road and California Highway 97, had grown to 8,159 acres by Wednesday morning, according to U.S. Forest Service public affairs officer Kimberly DeVall. The blaze was 5% contained.

“We had crews engaged throughout the night,” DeVall said. “They were constructing some fire line and some structure protection as needed.”

Evacuation warnings remained in effect for residents on West Ball Mountain-Little Shasta Road up to Cook Campbell Road, for all of Meiss Lake Road, and over to U.S. Forest Service Road 3, according to the Incident Information System website. An additional evacuation warning remained in effect for the Macdoel area.

The California Interagency Incident Management Team 15 assumed command of the fire Wednesday, with 278 personnel working on the fire.

The Lava fire, burning about 3.5 miles northeast of Weed, had grown to 17,591 acres and was considered 19% contained.

Lava fire evacuation orders included:

• All homes on the north side of Hoy Road

• North along Highway 97 to County Road A-12

• The Carrick addition

• The communities of Lake Shastina and Juniper Valley off Big Springs Road from Highway 97 to McDonald Lane

• Big Springs Road on both east and west sides

• Mount Shasta Vista subdivision

• County Road A-12, north and south

• Harry Cash Road

• 4 Corners to Hart Road

• Highway 97 between Weed and Dorris

On Wednesday, firefighters asked visitors at several Mount Shasta campgrounds to evacuate, including Bunny Flat, Sand Flat, Red Fir Flat and McBride Springs. The Forest Service also closed Everitt Memorial Highway at the Gateway Trailhead.

Police earlier this week fatally shot a man as he tried to drive into a cannabis farm complex that was under evacuation orders, according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue. The man, who has not been identified, reportedly aimed a gun at police.

Smoke from both fires continued to spill into parts of the Rogue Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

“Most of the smoke is now getting carried off to the east,” meteorologist Marc Spilde said Tuesday. “Most of it’s east of the Cascades.”

On Wednesday afternoon, air quality in Ashland, Talent, Medford and Grants Pass remained at “moderate,” according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Index.

Oregon’s state of emergency

Oregon continues to deal with its own slate of wildfires, including Klamath County’s Cutoff fire and the S-503 fire near the Warm Springs Reservation. Much of Oregon is in high or extreme fire danger, and more than half of the state’s counties have declared drought emergencies.

Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday declared a state of emergency because of the conditions and recent record-breaking high temperatures.

"Oregon is still recovering from the devastation of last year’s wildfires, which resulted in nine Oregonians losing their lives and thousands more losing their homes,” Brown said in a news release. “With wildfires already sparking this year, it is imperative that we act now to prevent further loss — of life, property, business and our natural resources.”

Crater Lake National Park implemented multiple fire restrictions within the park Wednesday.

Wood and charcoal fires are permitted only within established grills or fire rings, or portable self-contained grills, on the Mazama campground or park residential areas, according to the National Park Service website. Gas and propane camp stoves and gas grills are allowed in campgrounds and in picnic, backcountry and residential areas.

Smoking is permitted only in vehicles as long as an ashtray is used, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter “that is barren or free of all flammable materials,” the website says. Ashes and butts may not be discarded on the ground and must be disposed of safely.

Fireworks are prohibited within the park.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.