LOWER LAKE (KRON) — Fire crews are working to fully contain the Clayton Fire burning in Lake County by Sunday, according to Lt. Doug Pittman.
The raging wildfire broke out on Saturday afternoon and has since burned nearly 4,000 acres and nearly 200 structures.
Fire crews were able to gain ground on the massive fire on Tuesday morning bringing the containment up to 35 percent. By Wednesday morning the fire was 40 percent contained.
Lake County is still recovering from the devastating Valley Fire that ripped through Middleton nearly a year ago.
The progress came as authorities arrested Damin Anthony Pashilk, 40, of Clearlake on 17 counts of arson Monday. Pashilk is suspected of sparking the blaze that exploded over the weekend. Officials say he is also suspected in several other fires over the past year in Lake County.
Roughly 1,600 firefighters are battling the blaze Tuesday through warm temperatures and light winds.
The flames earlier reached historic Main Street, where firefighters couldn’t save an office of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that had been raising money to help rebuild homes in nearby communities torched a year ago.
“Mr. Pashilk committed a horrific crime and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. My thoughts continue to be with the people of Lake County during this difficult time,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ken Pimlott said.
Several thousand people fled the blaze, some after ensuring their goats and chickens were safe. No one was reported hurt.
While firefighters worked in the surrounding countryside, in town crews swept up ash and worked to clear roads of fallen powerlines and telephone poles. Homes — some dating to the 1880s — were burned to their foundation. A wooden threshold in front of one home still carried the address but the house behind was gone. Other homes nearby were completely spared.
Gov. Jerry Brown has also issued a state of emergency in Lake County due to the Clayton Fire.
Evacuations: Clayton Creek Rd., all of Morgan Valley Rd., North Spruce Grove Road to Jerusalem Grade Rd., Hwy 53 at the Hwy 29 junction north to Hwy 20
Advisory Evacuations: Jerusalem Grade Road
Road Closures: Clayton Creek Rd. at Hwy 29 , all of Morgan Valley Road to the Napa Countyline, North Spruce Grove Road and junction of Spruce Grove Rd and Jerusalem Grade South Spruce Grove Road off Hwy 29.
Kelseyville H.S. Seventh Day Adventist Church Twin Pines Casino
5480 Main St. 3500 Hill Rd E. 22223 Hwy 29
Kelseyville CA, 95451 Lakeport CA, 95453 Middletown CA, 95461
Konocti School District schools will be closed the entire week from August 15 through August 19. A plan for the following week will be released on or before Friday, Aug. 19.
The closed schools are as follows:
Blue Heron School
Burns Valley Elementary
Carle Continuation High School
Clearlake Creativity School
East Lake Elementary
Konocti Education Center
Lower Lake Elementary
Lower Lake High School
Pomo Elementary School
How to help:
North Coast Opportunities, Inc. (NCO) is re-activating the fire relief fund created during 2015’s devastating Lake County wildfires, and is already working with local organizations to react as quickly as possible to the Clayton fire.
More details about the fund and how to apply will be forthcoming. In the meantime, donations are being accepted at any Mendo Lake Credit Union branch, at any NCO office, or via PayPal. Make checks payable to NCO / Wildfire Relief Fund, and write “Clayton Fire” in the memo section.