Two women killed by Northern California wildfire in Weed


The two victims killed in the Mill Fire Friday in Northern California were both women — ages 66 and 73 — and were found inside the Weed city limits, authorities said early Monday.

The women, whose names were not released pending notification of relatives, were found on Friday by first responders after the blaze broke out, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

No other residents have been reported as missing, sheriff’s officials said. At an operational briefing early Monday, Cal Fire unit chief Phillip Anzo led firefighting crews in a moment of silence for the two victims.

City officials have said the Mill Fire is believed to have started at a shed in an unused portion of the Roseburg Forest Products mill in Weed, although Cal Fire has not confirmed where or how the blaze began.

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A residence goes up in flames as the Mill Fire causes damage in the Lake Shastina subdivision northwest of Weed, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. Hung T. Vu Special to The Record Searchlight via AP

Within hours of the Mill Fire beginning at about 12:49 p.m. Friday, a second blaze — the Mountain Fire — erupted several miles to the west.

Both were still burning Monday and officials estimate at least 100 homes were destroyed in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Weed and in nearby Lake Shastina.

The Mill Fire had burned 4,263 acres by Monday morning, an increase of 9 acres overnight. More than 500 people remained evacuated from it, Cal Fire said. But containment of that blaze had increased to 40% as firefighters increased containment lines around the blaze and were continuing to protect structures in the area.

Cal Fire says 88 homes have been destroyed along with 18 outbuildings. But that number is expected to rise as teams continue to assess properties in Lincoln Heights, a historically Black neighborhood of Weed, as well as Lake Shastina.

Mill fire map

This live-updating map shows the location of the Mill Fire, right, and the Mountain Fire, with satellite heat detection data for hot spots. Click on the legend button for more information.

Sources: U.S. Department of the Interior, IRWIN, NIFC, NASA, NOAA and Esri

The Mountain Fire spread overnight by nearly 2,000 acres and had burned 10,338 acres by Monday morning. The fire has forced the evacuation of 332 residents after a new round of evacuations were issued Sunday. Crews said the fire remained 10% contained.

“The fire is burning in steep, broken terrain in different types of vegetation,” Cal Fire said. “All fuels are at or approaching critical levels for dryness.

“Personnel are engaging in structure defense and strengthening control lines. More resources are continuing to arrive.”

In an operational briefing for firefighting crews early Monday, officials said the Mountain Fire has been largely contained on its eastern flank but was continuing to spread to the west.

“The problematic issue … is that western side of the mountain,” said Justin Macomb, an operations chief with Cal Fire. “We’ve got a lot of activity out there on the mountain.”

He said the fire was threatening to cross Moffett Creek in a rugged, heavily wooded area of Siskiyou. “We’ve got to hold Moffett Creek if we can,” he said.

Nearly 2,500 firefighters and other personnel were deployed to battle the blazes and were contending with scorching heat and dry conditions, with temperatures near Weed expected to hit 98 degrees Monday and 104 Tuesday. Forecasts, however, have indicated that wind will not be a factor until at least Wednesday

Six people have been killed in wildfires this summer in California, all of them in Siskiyou County. Four died in July’s McKinney Fire.

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Cal Fire firefighters try to stop flames from the Mill Fire from spreading on a property in the Lake Shastina subdivision northwest of Weed, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. Hung T. Vu Special to The Record Searchlight via AP

This story was originally published September 5, 2022 7:27 AM.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.

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