Photos: Lake County fire destroys homes, businesses

LOWER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — A wind-whipped wildfire roared through a Northern California town threatened by a devastating blaze a year ago, wiping out more than 100 homes and businesses and forcing thousands of people to flee, authorities said Monday.

The fire seemed calm Sunday before gusts kicked up the flames that tore through neighborhoods in Lower Lake, a rural town about 90 miles north of San Francisco, officials said. No one was injured, but it reached Main Street and burned the post office, a winery, an antiques store, a historic firehouse and the Habitat for Humanity office.

“This fire roared through the city like a wave of water — it was a wave of fire that came through here,” said Lt. Doug Pittman, a Marin County sheriff’s spokesman working on behalf of the forestry department.

The blaze was one of 11 large wildfires in the state, where high temperatures and parched conditions brought on by a five-year drought raised the fire danger. In central California, a day-old wildfire burned 20 structures and threatened 150 homes.

About 4,000 people have fled their homes as a growing wildfire in Northern California burns into a town and destroys at least 10 homes.

Cal Fire officials say the fire about 90 miles north of San Francisco has grown to nearly 5 square miles since it erupted Saturday afternoon.

They have confirmed 10 homes destroyed, but eyewitnesses could see many more.

On Sunday afternoon, the flames jumped a road and marched into Main Street in Lower Lake, a town of about 1,200. A winery, a Habitat for Humanity office and several businesses were burned in the four-block strip.

A portion of Clearlake, a neighboring town of about 15,000, was also evacuated as firefighters struggled to get a handle on the largely out-of-control fire.

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