UKIAH, Calif. (CBSNewYork) — Fast-moving wildfires are threatening more than 14,000 homes and other buildings in Northern California.
This, as the death toll rises to at least eight people.
Officials say there are 17 large fires burning across the state.
The newest, called the Mendocino Complex fires, are burning through the hills of Lake County, just north of San Francisco, moving quickly enough to threaten highly populated towns nearby.
Cell phone video captured the moment drivers had to turn around on a highway that was blocked by flames.
About 2,000 personnel are battling the Mendocino Complex fires. Firefighters say the thick brush is helping to aid the flames.
“You can see how thick this vegetation is. If there’s a fire that comes into an area like this, you can’t put personnel in here,” Cal Fire’s Will Powers said. “The aircraft, the helicopters that are working this fire, that is the best approach to fight a fire like this.”
The flames have burned more than 107 square miles, an area larger than Sacramento.
Many families have had to pack up twice in the past two days when the first shelter they went to had to be evacuated itself on Monday.
“I didn’t think it was going to be like that,” said evacuee Lavonne Moore. “I thought we were just going to go and stay.”
Still, not everyone is complying with the mandatory evacuation orders. Juan Soria says he’s staying put even though he saw his neighbor’s field catch fire.
“If my life is in jeopardy, I’m not going to risk it for material things. But as long as I can defend it, I will,” said Soria. “This is all I got. This is all I got.”
The strain of battling these blazes is taking a toll on the firefighters as well. Officials say the demands aren’t just physical, but mental. Many on the front lines are not just dealing with the long, strenuous hours, but also the long periods of time away from friends and family.