Rocky Fire continues to grow, with the threat of more evacuations

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - The Rocky Fire in Lake County continues to explode in size. On Saturday morning, Cal Fire announced that it grew to 22,500 acres, and remains only 5% contained.

Hundreds of people have already been evacuated, but an evacuation advisory has been issued for the city of Clearlake, which affects 5,000 residences.

"Pictures of my nephews, my grandkids, my son and daughter in law,” described Sally LaLonde as she showed KTVU plastic bins full of family photographs in the backseat of her car.

"You grab what's irreplaceable," LaLonde went on, "and it's crazy, it's scary, it's intense."

The battle on the fire, which started late Wednesday afternoon, is also intense.

Even as the weather cooled, the dry timber and pasture continues to burn, and firefighters scramble to save homes and livestock tucked in the rolling hills.

Nearly 2,000 firefighters are working the Rocky Fire, with a few dozen bulldozers and helicopters assisting.

"I could come back to no house," an evacuee named Catherine admitted, as she drove away from her home off Morgan Valley Road.

In the trunk, her important papers, cell phone, laptop, and toiletries.

She'll stay with a friend for now.

"I figured, am I going to be able to sleep tonight? Knowing I'd be waiting for the sheriff or the firefighters to come get me out, so I thought, no, I'll just go now."

For some in the early path of the fire, it is too late.

"I am pretty shaken up since my grandparent's house burned to the ground," evacuee Amanda McRae told KTVU.

Theirs was one of three homes known to be destroyed.

"We've lost two dogs and my grandma's house is completely gone," McRae elaborated, "my mom's house is standing, but everything around it is completely flattened, completely gone."

Cal Fire is updating the size and containment of the fire daily, and says that it will continue to grow, before firefighters get a handle on things. 

"We're worried it could come this way," Clearlake resident Cassie Meyer told KTVU, as she watched the fire on a ridge about five miles away.

Her neighborhood, called "the Avenues", is under an evacuation advisory, recommended but not required, and several school buses and drivers have already been put on standby to help those who don't have cars, if it comes to that.

"We've been watching it for two whole days now, and it seems it's getting closer and closer," acknowledged resident Robert Saxton, outside with Meyer, watching the fire glow.

"For a while we thought they had stopped it," observed Meyer, "but now we're seeing the flames again"

With an emergency declaration from Governor Brown, and 23 large wildfires now burning in California, Cal Fire is asking everyone headed outdoors for recreation this weekend, to be especially careful with fire.