Thousands of people were ordered out of their homes early Monday after wind-whipped wildfires burned dozens of buildings across northern California.
Described as "unprecedented" by authorities, the largest blaze — which is known as the Rocky Fire — tore across the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco. It almost tripled in size to 84 square miles over the weekend.
A firefighter monitors a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on Sunday near Clearlake, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
The scale of the blaze has prompted officials to order 12,000 people to evacuate their homes, according to The Sacramento Bee newspaper. Several roads were also closed.
The fire has already destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings and was threatening 6,300 homes, officials said.
Photo Gallery: Rocky Fire Blazes Through California
"It's jaw-dropping to see some of the things it is doing," California state fire spokesman Jason Shanley told the newspaper.
Many of the California fires were sparked by lightning and the danger was expected to continue as the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning for Modoc County on Monday. A separate blaze the known as the Frog Fire continues to burn in that area.
Officials urge "extreme caution" during Red Flag warnings "because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire."
U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl died in the fire around 100 miles south of the Oregon border on Saturday. Four others were burned in a fire near Sacramento.
An air tanker drops fire retardant to keep the Rocky Fire from jumping Highway 20 near Clearlake, California, on Sunday. NOAH BERGER / EPA