Oct. 25 (UPI) — A rapidly spreading wildfire doubled in size in Northern California on Thursday, causing officials to issue mandatory evacuation orders.
Dubbed the Kincade Fire, the blaze erupted Wednesday night near the Geysers geothermal plant in Sonoma County. It grew to more than 10,000 acres by Thursday afternoon with zero percent containment, Cal Fire said.
Cal Fire Incident Commander Mike Parkes said the fire destroyed an unknown number of structures and it was unclear how many of those were homes.
Parkes added that authorities expect the fire to continue growing after it burned 5,000 acres 3 hours after forming.
Evacuation orders were in place for several areas in Sonoma County, including Healdsburg and Geyserville, the Sonoma County sheriff’s office said in an advisory, describing the severity of the situation as “extreme” as there is “extraordinary threat to life or property.”
“If you feel unsafe, evacuate,” the sheriff’s office said.
Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Calif., warned residents to follow all evacuation notices.
“This fire is moving fast, please pay attention to evacuation orders. Firefighters will be working hard through the night,” he said on Twitter.
The National Weather Service said it recorded wind gusts of 76 mph near the fire’s location. North Bay, East Bay Hills and Santa Cruz Mountains were also under a red-flag warning for critical fire weather through Thursday afternoon due to strong winds and “very low humidity,” the NWS said.
The NWS also predicted smoke to spread to the Bay Area between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday morning.
The fire erupted as Pacific Gas & Electronic cut power to some 179,000 accounts in 17 counties, including 27,830 customers in Sonoma County, to prevent wildfires caused by dry, windy conditions.
PG&E spokeswoman Karly Hernandez said the fire is burning near the shut-off footprint and “we are working to gather additional information.”