NorCal town takes stock after wind driven wildfire destroys 150 buildings

WEED, Calif. (KGO) -- Northern California firefighters now have the upper hand on a fire that has nearly wiped out a town near the Oregon border.

The fire damaged or destroyed 150 buildings in Weed, Calif., including two churches, a school and a lumber mill, the town's biggest employer.

PHOTOS: Boles Fire devastates small Northern California town

The Boles Fire has been burning in Siskyou County along Interstate 5, in the shadow of Mount Shasta. One resident said the town looked as if bomb went off. Block after block, there was nothing but the charred remnants of homes and other buildings.

The fast moving wildfire burned through the town in the space of two hours Monday afternoon. Roughly two-thirds of the town's 3,000 residents evacuated.

Diana Starling and her husband Travis were among the lucky ones.

"It's just awful to know your neighbors have no home," Diana Starling said.

"Who would ever think it would jump that far?" Travis Starling said.

A spark, amplified by winds from the south side of town, blew the fire toward the homes and other structures. A crew from Cal Fire describes Weed as being overrun by flames. Three firefighters lost homes while fighting the blaze.

"It was a worse case scenario," Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLain said. "Everything was aligned unfortunately, yesterday."

In one neighborhood, flames reached 125 feet high.

"It was crazy," said Matt Falconer, a Weed resident. "Kind of like 'Apocalypse Now.' I was on the roof watching houses explode. Within three minutes it went from one house to another."

Chester Kyle, another resident, said usually there's something left after a fire, but in his neighborhood there was nothing.

Though in Weed, the community's spirit remains strong.

"We will pull together," Travis Starling said. "We will build our town back together."

Nearly 6,000 firefighters are are trying to contain a dozen wildfires across the state, including the fire in Weed.

Meanwhile, the King Fire in El Dorado County has destroyed more than 11,000 acres and is just 5 percent contained as of Tuesday evening.

The fire is burning north of Highway 50 near Pollock Pines, which is between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe.

So far, 500 structures remain threatened, and two people have been hurt.In Madera County, south of Yosemite, the Courtney Fire has destroyed more than 33 homes and forced the evacuation of 600 people.

The fire near Oakhurst has burned 320 acres and is 40 percent contained.

A lot of people have been dropping off food and drinks for evacuated residents at the Red Cross shelter in Oakhurst.

The local movie theater even brought fresh popcorn.
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