Several fires burn in Northern California

June 11, 2008 10:47:02 PM PDT
There are about 600 acres burning in different fires throughout Northern California. The wind is the enemy, as it is hampering firefighting efforts and allowing the fire to grow in the smoke-filled canyon area near Chico.

Up to 1,000 have been evacuated.

With marginal roads and steep terrain, an aerial assault was the quickest way to tame this fast-moving fire. Tanker after tanker attacked the flames to keep them from spreading across the ridge.

"That's how we have to do this. We have to bombard this thing and hopefully keep it as small as possible," said Joshpae White from CAL FIRE.

But the Chico fire is now at least 500 acres. Ground crews are helping where they can. Residents along Honey Run Road had to be evacuated.

Little Conner took his prized blankie, while grandma saved her daughter's irreplaceable writings.

"Memories, thoughts, poetry. She's 44-years-old, so she's been doing this a long time. My grandmother did it also," said evacuee Sue LaBaw.

Wind-driven fires in dry landscape are tougher to put out. Where ever embers fly is potential new fire.

For firefighters, the blaze can change direction at any moment. In the Chico fire, at least one firefighter has been injured.

In another fire in Lincoln, three had to be hospitalized with burns.

Residents in the small town of Palermo know what a wind-driven fire can do.

Ann Stroud saw for the first time what happened to her mobile home. The 76-year-old had lived in Palermo for three decades and can't figure out what to do next.

"I don't know," said Stroud.

With fire crews stretch so thin and flames moving so fast, Palermo residents knew they had to help, even though they knew the danger.

"The heat was coming this way. You just turn around and cover your face and then you turn back around, then the wind would push it. Then we'd try to attack it as best we could. Everybody had their hoses," said Firefighting resident Francis Braden.

To help with the aerial assault, the big DC-10 tanker has been ordered up. That can drop 12,000 gallons of water or retardant in one single trip.

MORE: ABC7's Bay Area wildfire resource guide and safety tips


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