Authorities have recovered the bodies of two women as they survey the damage of the Mill fire, which destroyed a neighborhood in Weed, California, and continues to burn thousands of acres as the state endures a drought and heatwave.
The bodies of the women, ages 66 and 73, were found Friday by first responders, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday night. Three other people have been injured in the fire, which as of Monday morning had burned 4,263 acres of Northern California and was 40% contained.
Weed Mayor Kim Greene told the Los Angeles Times that the fire had burned through much of Lincoln Heights, a historically Black community, within minutes.
“Wildfire is no longer in the wilderness,” Greene said. “It’s right inside the city limits.”
Nearly 560 people have been evacuated since the fire broke out Friday, Cal Fire said, though some evacuation orders and warnings have been lifted as firefighters have gained some control. The flames began in the area of a wood products company’s property, then quickly spread through a residential neighborhood.
Gusty winds, extremely dry conditions, and high temperatures all contributed to its growth, and those conditions have put much of the state at risk for wildfire.
Not far from the Mill fire, the Mountain fire also started Friday southwest of the community of Gazelle. So far, it has burned about 8,900 acres and is 10% contained.
There have been no injuries or fatalities as a result of the Mountain fire, but 332 people were forced to evacuate, Cal Fire officials said. The fire is burning in steep land through different types of vegetation, with terrain that could further fuel it approaching critical levels of dryness.