Rocky Fire burning near Clear Lake prompts evacuations

Byby Cornell Barnard and Chris Nguyen KGO logo
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Rocky Fire burning near Clear Lake prompts evacuations
Officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Saturday for the Double Eagle housing development and all areas east of the Cache Creek recreation area due to a large brush fire burning near Clear Lake.

CLEAR LAKE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Rocky Fire in Lake County near Clear Lake is burning out of control, charring at least 25,750 acres. It is still just five percent contained.

The fire is threatening hundreds of homes and has already destroyed three structures since it started burning.

Officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Double Eagle housing development and all areas east of the Cache Creek recreation area, along the Highway 20 corridor to Walker Ridge Road.

Motorist should expect heavy traffic due to emergency vehicles and should stay away from the area.

Highway 20 is closed to through traffic from the intersection of Highway 53 to the intersection of Highway 16 due to increased fire activity in the area. Traffic is being diverted around the area. Motorists are cautioned to drive safely and to be alert for emergency responders and hazards related to the fire.

PHOTOS: Smoke from Lower Lake area wildfire seen for miles

Crews will attempt to hold the fire and keep it from crossing Highway 20, but residents are required to leave the area.

Law Enforcement is also en-route to assist with the evacuation order. Residents are advised to gather medications, pets, important papers and take those items with them.

The specific areas under Mandatory Evacuation are Grizzly Canyon, Long Branch Drive,Lance Road, Cougar Road, Red Rocks, Meridian Road, Antelope Road, Mule Skinner Road, Flint Look Place, Moccasin Road, Roundball Road, Watertrough Road, Grigsby Canyon, Lucky Canyon, Remington Canyon, Walker Ridge, Walker Ridge Road, No Guns Road, Meriann Drive, Gibson Hill, Stemple Canyon, Harley Gulch, Stemple Canyon, Jack Canyon, Grizzly Canyon and Deadman Canyon.

Erratic winds stirred up flames that threatened to jump Morgan Valley Road. This is where most of the evacuations took place and this is where several engine crews from Southern California made their stand. "You see those power lines, right above my right shoulder. It's obviously a great danger on the ground here. So we're protecting these power lines by keeping hose lines in place," Monterey Park Fire Dept. Capt. Neil Lakin said.

VIDEO: Fire crews protect power lines from Rocky Fire

David Barreda and his family have been living in an RV in the parking lot of his feed store. Several dogs, a pot belly pig and a miniature horse are there as well. "Just keep an eye and see when we can get back in and they give us the OK," Barreda said.

Firefighters told the family to leave Thursday as the Rocky Fire grew more intense. Luckily Barreda's house survived.

Over 1,500 firefighters across the west are battling this fierce fire across unforgiving, steep rugged hillsides as the fire slowly marches north the weather is helping firefighters. "Now we've shifted a little bit where we don't really have those high winds out of the north. Humidity is starting to come up a little bit and temperatures are coming down," Cal Fire spokesperson Paul Lowenthal said.

The death of a firefighter named David Ruhl who was killed while battling the Frog Fire in Modoc County is a grim reminder how dangerous the job can be.

"Unfortunately there's tragic occurrences that do occur around the country and we constantly push safety all the time," Lowenthal said.

The Red Cross evacuation shelter at Middletown High School and Kelseyville High School are available if residents are in need of shelter. "We're expecting a possibility of more if the evacuations in Clear Lake become mandatory so we have ramped up the shelter to accomidate 100 people," American Red Cross Margo Simpson said.

Animals are being evacuated to the parking lot of the Department of Social Services off Highway 53 at 15975 Anderson Ranch Parkway, Lower Lake.

Officials say at least 6,100 structures remain threatened. Evacuees are hoping the weather does cooperate so that firefighters are able to get the upper hand on this fire.

Meanwhile, a second fire is burning northeast toward the city of Lower Lake. It prompted more evacuations and the opening of another shelter in nearby Kelseyville.

"There's been some advisories. A lot of my friends in Lower Lake and Morgan Road and all those guys have gotten evacuated, so we're just on standby," resident John Brown said.

"We're in the set mode right now. You should be ready to evacuate. It shouldn't be any surprise if you get the phone call or the knock on the door," Cal Fire spokesperson Capt. Ron Oatman said.

Now firefighters are hoping the nighttime humidity and lower temperatures will last long enough for them to gain a much-needed advantage.

A community meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday at Lower Lake High School located at 9430 Lake Street in Lower Lake. Fire and other public officials plan to provide the latest information about the Rocky Fire.