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Clearlake’s Cache fire at 80 acres, 20% contained, 1 injured, dozens of homes destroyed

Firefighters were battling a fast-moving wildfire in Clearlake into the evening Wednesday. By 7 p.m., they reported the blaze at 80 acres, with 20% containment, but not before it had injured one person, destroyed multiple structures and prompted the evacuations of about 1,600 people from the towns of Clearlake and Lower Lake. Some people had been able to return to their homes Wednesday night, but many were likely without power, as outages continued to affect the areas around the fire.

Dubbed the Cache fire, it was reported in the area of Sixth Avenue and Cache Street shortly after 12:30 p.m. Located in Lake County, the area is about 50 miles northeast of Santa Rosa.

Here’s the latest:

8 p.m.

Evacuation orders and warnings were lifted in some areas impacted earlier by the Cache fire, while evacuation orders in two other zones remained in place.

Orders were lifted in:

Zone LOW-E159

This zone is located north of Moran Valley Road and south of Cache Creek, east of Bonham Road and southwest of Staehle Lane

Zone LOW-E169

North boundary extends south of Main Street and Morgan Valley Road

West boundary extends to the east of Highway 29

South boundary extends north of Spruce Grove Road North

Orders remain in place in:

Zone CLE-E157-A

This zone contains everything in the city of Clearlake to the south of 18th Avenue and east of Highway 53 except for Adventist Health Clear Lake Hospital.

Zone LOW-E160

The zone extends from North of Main Street and Morgan Valley Road, east of Bonham Road, west of Highway 53 and south of Cache Creek. It does not include school district campuses.

About 300 people were able to return home, while another 1,300 remained under evacuation order, according to Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin.

7:50 p.m.

The Konocti Unified School District canceled classes for Aug. 19 due to the Cache fire, according to an update on the district website Wednesday night.

The district kicked off its school year just two days ago, on Aug. 16.

“We are coordinating our efforts with CalFire and emergency response agencies to keep everyone as safe as possible,” the announcement read. More updates were forthcoming.

7:30 p.m.

The Cache fire is now at 80 acres and 20% contained, fire officials said in a press conference. There were 1,600 people evacuated, with another 800 under evacuation warning.

Evacuees would not be able to return to their homes tonight, said Brian Martin, Lake County sheriff.

A woman who suffered moderate injuries was evacuated from the area by helicopter, officials said. Dozens of structures have been burned, but a full damage assessment has not been completed.

The Creekside Mobile Home Park appeared to have experienced some of the most widespread destruction, with homes on either side of Dam Road burned to the ground.

Lake County Fire Protection District Chief Willie Sapeta said this week’s wind, which led to a red flag warning, played a role in fire activity. “We were in the mist of it,” he said. “It was a key factor."

6:44 p.m.

The fire has stopped growing, but firefighters aren’t calling it contained because they haven’t secured lines around the flames to stop them from spreading, said Cal Fire spokesman Tyree Zander.

“We need to reassure that our line around it is holding the fire secure,” he said.

A section of the fire is considered contained when all flames have been extinguished 300 feet in from the line, Zander said.

6:33 p.m.

Ramona Sanchez and her husband, David Steffan, were among those evacuated from the mobile home park where they lived for three years. While Steffan took a walk, Sanchez sat in their Honda Fit that was parked at the shopping center along Dam Road, where buses dropped off evacuees.

She wondered if her home still stood, but was even more concerned about her neighbor, Barbara, who declined to go with them when they evacuated.

“I really hope she’s OK,” Sanchez, 57, said around 6 p.m. “We told her we’d take her, she said no.”

As Sanchez sat in her car, three other evacuees and their dogs sat in bus stops. They said they had nowhere to go and declined to comment further.

Just around the corner, a larger number of residents gathered at the Dam roadblock in hopes of going home.

Among them was Corinna Wilkinson, who said she dialed 911 from work around 12:30 p.m. before heading to her apartment at Dam Road and Lake Street. Around 12:45 p.m., she evacuated with her 13-year-old son, 21-year-old nephew and a cat, dog and bird.

She described the experience as “scary, worrisome and chaotic.”

Wilkinson only saw the smoke, and it was bad enough to cause concern.

“It was huge. It wasn’t when I called (911), but by the time I got home and evacuated, it was huge,” she said.

Many evacuees sought ways to entertain themselves but couldn’t rely on businesses due to a power outage.

Maggie Magoolaghan said she was shopping at Safeway when power went out. She put her three items back on the shelves and left, only to find road closures keeping her from getting home to Kelseyville.

She wanted to take Dam Road, but couldn’t and spent several hours parked at the road block.

“I’m just frustrated because I have no phone to call my daughter,” Magoolaghan said.

6:17 p.m.

At least one person was injured as a result of the fire, Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin said in a Facebook update. “Several dozen homes” had been lost, he said.

5:58 p.m.

More than 5,000 PG&E customers were without power by 5:30 p.m., down from nearly 12,500 during the height of the fire.

Fire officials said some transmission towers had been damaged so those lines would not be re-energized soon.

PG&E showed 7,714 customers were without power around 2 p.m. in “unplanned outages,” most in Clearlake. The utility company had shut down another 4,767 in Lake County for safety reasons, according to its website.

By evening, 5,227 were without power, about 4,000 still as a result of the utility’s shutoff.

As of 6 p.m. a total of 1,215 customers had no electricity, all due to the fire, PG&E reported.

A tanker drops retardant on a fire along Lake Street, across from Lower Lake Elementary School, in Lower Lake on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.  (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
A tanker drops retardant on a fire along Lake Street, across from Lower Lake Elementary School, in Lower Lake on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

5:20 p.m.

All road closures except in the area of Dam Road at Jack in the Box, Main Street Lower Lake at the Highway 53 and Highway 29 juncture and Jessie Street at Highway 53 have been lifted, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

4:58 p.m.

Forward progress on the Cache fire in near Clearlake was stopped, though the blaze was still at 0% containment, Cal Fire spokesman Tyree Zander said. The size of the fire was revised to 75 acres, down from an estimated 100 acres.

4:30 p.m.

Approximately 1,500 people were under mandatory evacuation orders related to Clearlake’s Cache fire Wednesday afternoon, Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Corey Paulich said in an email. An additional 800 residents were warned that they too may need to evacuate due to the fire, he said.

Firefighters appeared to have a handle on the fire in at least the area along Dam Road, where the sky had cleared after hours of being clouded by gray smoke.

The number of firefighters at the scene had diminished and mostly utility crews remained.

4:20 p.m.

Highway 29 was closed in both directions at Highway 53 to Kits Corner near Lower Lake due to Cache fire activity, Caltrans said in an online alert. There was no estimated time for reopening.

4:12 p.m.:

The fire had destroyed a dozen or more structures by 3:30 p.m., according to Jacqueline Snyder, chair of the Lake County Fire Protection District board.

That number was fluid and unconfirmed, she said. The fire remained uncontained.

“Firefighters are taking active defensive positions and they are continuing to evacuate residents,” she said.

In southeast Clearlake, the fire-ravaged Dam Road was lined with remnants at least a dozen structures and even more vehicles Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters from multiple agencies converged on the area and focused their attention to a spot east of Wilkinson Road. Power lines were downed and PG&E crews were on scene to shut off power and cut utility lines.

4:07 p.m.

The fire ravaged property along Dam Road, which was lined with remnants of no fewer than a dozen structures and even more vehicles

Firefighters from multiple agencies converged on the area and focused their attention on an area east of Wilkinson Road.

Power lines were downed and PG&E crews were on scene to shut off power and cut utility lines.

3:40 p.m.

Cal Fire confirmed the Cache fire has grown to approximately 100 acres with no containment as of Wednesday afternoon.

3:20 p.m.

Lake County officials have ordered mandatory evacuations in several areas between southeast Clearlake and south of Lower Lake. The evacuation zones are:

Zone CLE-E157-A

This zone contains everything in the city of Clearlake to the south of 18th Avenue and east of Highway 53 except for Adventist Health Clear Lake Hospital.

Zone LOW-E160

The zone extends from North of Main Street and Morgan Valley Road, east of Bonham Road, west of Highway 53 and south of Cache Creek. It does not include school district campuses.

LOW-E164 and Zone LOW-E163

These zones are located west of the Lower Lake Cemetery and east of Highway 53. They include both the Richard H. Lewis School Campuses and Lower Lake Elementary School campuses.

LOW-E166

This zone encompasses the area surrounding Lower Lake High School and William C. Charle Continuation School campuses.

Zone LOW-E169

North boundary extends south of Main Street and Morgan Valley Road

West boundary extends to the east of Highway 29

South boundary extends north of Spruce Grove Road North

Zone LOW-E159

This zone is located north of Moran Valley Road and south of Cache Creek, east of Bonham Road and southwest of Staehle Lane

Four additional evacuation warnings were in place west and southwest of Lower Lake, as well as in the Twin Lakes community further south. More information can be located at Lake County Evacuation Zone Map.

3:02 p.m.

Authorities have set up several road closures in the area of Clearlake and Lower Lake.

– Lake Street at Dam Road

– Dam Road at Jack in the Box

– Highway 53 at Dam Road

– Northbound Highway 29 at Spruce Grove Road North

– Main Street at Highway 53

– Southbound Highway 29 at Siegler Canyon Road

2:50 p.m.

The Cache fire grew to 100 acres as of about 2:45 p.m., according to fire scanner radio. There were several reports of burned pets and livestock on Dam Road, located in southeast Clearlake.

2:30 p.m.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin called on Lower Lake residents to leave the area amid a wildfire that began burning in Clearlake Wednesday afternoon.

Traffic congestion was making it difficult for incoming first responders to access the area, Martin said in a video posted to his Facebook page.

“It’s safe to say that if you’re in Lower Lake, you should probably get out of here,” Martin said. “If you’re just hanging around, trying to watch what’s going on, we kindly ask you to leave the area.”

Local schools were either cleared out or in the process of being cleared out, Martin added.

Scanner radio traffic indicated that the Cache fire burning in Lake County’s Clearlake had grown to 50 acres.

2 p.m.

An evacuation shelter for the Cache fire has been set up at Kelseyville High School at 5480 Main St.in Kelseyville.

See video from the scene at bit.ly/2W7h6D5.

1:50 p.m.

Authorities added the Cache Creek Apartments east of Betz Lane, and areas south of Dam Road to Tish-A Tang Road, to its list of areas that were under mandatory evacuation orders Wednesday afternoon due to a wildfire in Clearlake. Two evacuation zone southeast of Lower Lake were under an evacuation warning.

There are unconfirmed reports that the fire has burned 25 to 30 acres, including several homes, as of 1 p.m.

See the evacuation map at bit.ly/37W88uY

1:38 p.m.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department has issued evacuation orders for residents living in east Lower Lake and southeast of Clearlake, specifically in evacuation zones LOW-E159 and LOW-E160.

Authorities warn there is an immediate threat to life and property, and therefore urge residents to leave the area. No evacuation shelter has been identified.

1:25 p.m.

Firefighters are responding to a fire in Clearlake Wednesday afternoon.

The fire, dubbed the Cache fire, is burning in the area of Sixth Avenue and Cache Street, according to Cal Fire. The intersection is in the southeast part of town.

There are unconfirmed reports that the fire has burned 25 to 30 acres as of 1 p.m.

Alert Wildfire cameras show the area is filled with smoke and the scene is barely visibile in footage.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

Nashelly Chavez

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Press Democrat 

Who calls the North Bay home and how do their backgrounds, socioeconomic status and other factors shape their experiences? What cultures, traditions and religions are celebrated where we live? These are the questions that drive me as I cover diversity, equity and inclusion in Sonoma County and beyond.   

 

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