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Extreme fire activity in Shasta County burns 10,000 acres overnight

by by Sarah Ravani – San Francisco Chronicle |

A wildfire near the Sacramento River in Shasta County erupted overnight and grew 10,000 acres by Thursday morning, forcing mandatory evacuations as the flames threatened structures, officials said.

The Delta Fire, which started Wednesday afternoon as three blazes burned 15,294 acres near Interstate 5 by the Vollmers Exit just north of Lakehead, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Steep and rough terrain on both sides of I-5 has made it difficult to contain the 300-foot flames, and low humidity spread the blaze by rates of one mile per hour as it consumed mixed conifer and timber with no recent fire history, the forest service said.

Throughout the day Thursday, officials said, active and extreme fire behavior are expected.

U.S. Forest Service officials said the blaze was caused by someone but did not provide further details.

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuations for residents along the I-5 corridor just north of Lamoine to the Shasta-Siskiyou county line. A shelter was opened for evacuees at Mount Shasta Community Center.

The fire front was three miles wide on the northern side and the forest service predicted the blaze would continue to spread north into Slate Creek toward the Hirz Fire, which is burning in the Shasta National Forest. So far the inferno has scorched 46,150 acres and was 75 percent contained by Thursday.

Firefighters have worked to strengthen Hirz Fire containment lines and hotshot crews monitored several islands of vegetation that burned near the perimeter. Overnight, crews worked on dousing hot spots to prevent the fire from growing.

Elsewhere in California, the Sliger Fire, which ignited Tuesday afternoon near Georgetown close to the El Dorado-Placer county line, grew only slightly by Thursday to 104 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

The blaze was 45 percent contained and all evacuation orders were lifted.

Meanwhile, the North Fire, at the Emigrant Gap area of Tahoe National Forest near Interstate 80, was 10 percent contained and grew by nearly 200 acres to 1,274 acres by late Wednesday.

Containment lines were established near the western and southern portions of the blaze. Crews were working to strengthen containment lines on the northern side of the fire during the day Wednesday, according to Tahoe National Forest.