A Sierra Nevada wildfire that destroyed at least one building is threatening hundreds more structures, including some homes.
The Rices Fire grew to 904 acres along the Yuba River in Nevada County, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. More than 500 structures, including homes, remained under threat early Thursday, CAL FIRE said in a Thursday morning update.
Containment is at 10 percent.
Five firefighters were injured battling the blaze, which started Tuesday afternoon and made wind-driven runs in steep terrain through critically dry vegetation and drought-stressed trees. There was no immediate word on their conditions.
The small communities of Birchville, Sweetland, French Corral, Bridgeport, Rices Crossing, and the Buttermilk area were under evacuation orders.
Evacuation warnings were issued for areas of neighboring Yuba County, meaning people there should be prepared to leave.
The fire began in an “uninhabitable” building and the flames spread to vegetation, Cal Fire said.
On the central coast, the 375-acre Camino Fire in San Luis Obispo County was 45% contained and no structures were threatened, Cal Fire said. Investigators determined it was ignited by a vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Fuel moisture levels are well below historic averages in parts of Southern California, meaning vegetation is drying out more quickly this year. Dry vegetation is one significant factor in the spread of wildfires.
The state is coming of one of its driest late winters on record, leaving hillsides covered in dry brush.
California continues to face longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change, according to CAL FIRE.
“Extended dryness originating from January is expected to continue into the spring with little precipitation, leaving most of the state in moderate to extreme drought conditions prior to summer,” the state’s firefighting agency said in a 2022 fire season outlook. “These continued dry conditions, with above normal temperatures through spring, will leave fuel moisture levels lower than normal, increasing the potential for wildland fire activity.”