Mill Fire kills 2 people, destroys dozens of homes

Cal Fire says two people have died in the Mill Fire. Officials say at least 50 homes were destroyed by the fire in Siskiyou County and hundreds more remain threatened. The fire started just before 1 p.m. Friday at a building next a lumber mill, so far it has burned over 4,000 acres and is 25-percent contained. 

"It just happened so fast," said evacuee Jason Malitz. "I mean I looked out back oh my god there’s smoke, and the next thing I know my phone is screaming evacuate, evacuate, evacuate."

Evacuees at a Red Cross shelter in Yreka said they had only minutes to leave their homes. "It’s scary just to think about it," said Malitz. "This heat with the fires and it’s just only going to get worse. A lot worse."

Weed resident Chester Hopkins said the home he has lived in for 40 years burned down. "We lost our whole neighborhood," said Hopkins.

He was working his job as a custodian at Weed High School when the fire started raging. Hopkins said, "I tried to go over there tried to pick up my aunt, tried to go up Railroad Avenue and the flames were so bad I couldn’t get up the road."

Firefighters are up against drought conditions and rough terrain. Crews are also battling two fires in Siskiyou County. The "Mountain Fire" started only hours after the Mill Fire about 15 miles away.

Rick Carhart with Cal Fire said, "For two fires to start on the same day in the same area is pretty unusual."

More than one-thousand people between the two fires have been evacuated. Firefighters say they are treating these are separate incidents with two separate origins.

"The terrain is kind of the driving thing because these mountains are almost straight up and down," said Carhart.

The cause of the Mill Fire is under investigation. Officials say so far, three civilians have been injured in the blaze. Over 800 fire personnel are working to fully contain the fire.