State Watch

California wildfire grows to 13,000 acres, threatens marijuana farms


One of Northern California’s wildfires that erupted from mountain thunderstorms last week has grown to cover more than 13,000 acres as of Tuesday, potentially threatening a massive network of marijuana farms in the area.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection announced Tuesday evening that the Lava Fire burning brush and timber in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest had grown from 1,446 acres on Monday to 13,300, with firefighters having the blaze 19 percent contained.

Two other fires in the area, the Tennant Fire and Beswick Fire, are not as large but have prompted a red flag warning and evacuations, according to USA Today

The U.S. Forest Service for Shasta-Trinity said on Facebook early Wednesday that the Tenant Fire was located about 25 miles away from the Lava Fire, and by Tuesday afternoon had already burned 6,000 acres. 

By Tuesday evening, the state fire agency said on Twitter that the Beswick Fire, covering about 118 acres, had been 60 percent contained. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Tuesday that the state had received a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fight the Lava Fire. 

“If you’re in the area, please stay safe and listen to local official warnings,” Newsom added in a tweet. 

The Lava Fire is now appearing to threaten the Lake Shastina community, where nearly 3,000 people live, as well as 8,000 others in the area who work on nearby marijuana farms, according to the Sacramento Bee

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office has put an evacuation order in place for the area, with USA Today reporting that officers shot and killed a man who pulled a gun as they tried to keep him out of a complex of marijuana farms. 

While the county has prohibited the large-scale cultivation of marijuana, thousands of greenhouses are still run in the community, mostly by Hmong and Chinese families, according to USA Today. 

The extreme heatwave on the West coast and dryer conditions have prompted wildfires to break out unseasonably early, with many officials and experts warning that 2021 could bring the worst fire season yet. 

Governments across the West coast have begun allocating large amounts of money to prepare for the wildfire season, including Newsom’s proposed $2 billion in spending on emergency preparedness. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signed a measure dedicating $125 million every biennium for the next two decades on fire relief and mitigation, and Oregon state lawmakers are working on sending a $220 million wildlife protection proposal to Gov. Kate Brown (D).

Tags California Facebook Gavin Newsom heatwave Jay Inslee Kate Brown Oregon Pacific Northwest heat wave Twitter USA Today Washington wildfires

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