A northern California forest fire threatened thousands of homes after it was struck by a wind-blown monster that burned homes in a small mountain community and killed at least three people.
Authorities said several other people had severe burns and hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and other buildings are believed to have been damaged or destroyed by the Northeast Compound Fire of Northeast San Francisco.
Evacuation warnings or orders were issued for about 20,000 people in Plumas, Yuba and Bute counties.
The fires – which had been burning for weeks in the woods and were 50% contained – erupted to six times their size as winds of up to 45 miles per hour wrecked a path through the hilly terrain and dry hills.
The winds subsided on Wednesday but the fire was only contained 24% and the danger remained.
“We’ve seen time and time again how dangerous wildfires are.… So I ask you to please, please prepare, maintain situational awareness and listen to the warnings,” said Butte County Police Chief, Kore Hunia.
Hunia announced the three deaths but declined to provide details. Ben Draper, a California Highway Patrol officer, told Bay Area News Group that one person was found in a car and it appeared he was trying to escape the flames.
Several homes were burned in the Butte County village of Berry Creek, of which 525 people are.