Evacuations ordered as Pawnee fire grows in eastern Lake County; reports of burned homes

A 400-acre wildfire burning in a rural area in eastern Lake County prompted authorities Saturday to issue mandatory and advisory evacuation orders for up to 3,000 residents living in the area.

The Pawnee fire was reported after 5 p.m. and was threatening the Spring Valley Lakes subdivision east of Clearlake Oaks. It resulted in a mandatory evacuation for Spring Valley, which sits east of Clear Lake off Highway 20, as well as the areas of Quail Creek and Wolf Creek, said Will Powers, Cal Fire spokesman.

The community of Chalk Hill was under an advisory evacuation, Powers said. There were no reports of injuries or burned buildings as of 10 p.m.

Residents were being directed to the shelter established at Lower Lake High School, said Dale Carnathan, emergency services manager for Lake County.

“We got teams out there doing evacuations,” Carnathan said. “Radio traffic has had a few that have refused to leave.”

The blaze was expanding at a “moderate rate of speed” as a result of the wind, Powers said. “There’s some expected winds tonight, that’s a concern,” he said Saturday about 10 p.m.

Firefighting efforts were focused on the areas around Wolf Creek Road and Quail Trail, where mandatory evacuations were in place after 6:30 p.m. Chalk Mountain Road was added to the evacuation zone, which was enlarged to include all of Spring Valley.

Fire crews have been hampered in reaching certain portions of the burn zones because of hills and valleys in the area that have made it difficult to reach, Powers said. “There are some access issues due to terrain,” he said.

The last major fire in the area was the massive Fork fire in 1996. Parts of the area were also burned in the Wye fire in 2012. It was not affected by the 2015 Valley fire, which killed five people, destroyed more than 2,000 buildings and scorched more than ?76,000 acres.

Responding agencies included Cal Fire and various fire agencies throughout Lake County, Powers said. Emergency officials had three helicopters, four airplanes, six bulldozers, and five handcrews and ?35 engines responding to the fire by 10 p.m.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or On Twitter ?@BillSwindell.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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