So, many of you may have heard about the recent Lake County fire. As some of you may remember from last year’s coverage of the Rocky Fire, Jerusalem Fire and Valley Fire in Lake County, CA, I live up in the area. I watched last year as a third of the population of the county I grew up in were evacuated and eventually lost their homes in many cases.
On Friday, August 12, in the late afternoon another inferno was unleashed on our community. We have had several fires on the minor side this summer, quickly extinguished by diligent fire crews who still feel the burn of last year’s fires. But the Clayton Fire proved to be another monster fire with a terrible hunger.
The people of Lake County were having flashbacks of last fall all this past weekend as the smoke settled into the basin at night and the power went out multiple times. Many people in the City of Clearlake were evacuated from their homes on the east side of CA HWY 20 in an area known to locals as “The Avenues”. The hospital was shut down and evacuated and people were faced with the fact that any medical emergencies would have to be taken to Lakeport’s hospital nearly a 40 minute drive away.
The historic town of Lower Lake was devestated by the flames; businesses, homes and historic buildings were threatened and 175+ of those structures were completely destroyed. People feared they would lose everything, and for some those fears were realized….again. People watched the smoke grow and the aircraft fly overhead, dreading nightfall when the planes and helicopters would be grounded until dawn.
Ever since the big fires in the area in the summer and fall of 2015, locals have been certain there was an arsonist on the loose, setting fire to our communities whenever he wanted to. The certainty grew when the Clayton Fire started up right in almost the same spot as a fire the week before that jumped the highway, threatening homes on one side and government buildings and a state park on the other.
Then, on Monday, August 15th, an arrest was made!
You can hear the elation in the applause of the locals who attended this meeting. The word went out IMMEDIATELY over social media throughout the county. The outrage and righteous anger of our communities has ebbed in some ways and grown in others.
Here is an in depth report from CBSLocal SF Bay Area from Monday:
Here is a report from KPIX Channel 5 news that aired last night, August 16th: