REDDING (CBS SF) — A growing army of firefighters battled the advancing flames of the Fawn Fire northwest of Redding Friday morning, less than 24 hours after homes burned and cherished memories were turned to ash in what authorities believe is an intentionally set blaze.
Cal Fire provided an update on the fire Friday morning, saying it had grown to 5,850 acres and was 10% percent contained.
New mandatory evacuation orders were issued by the Shasta County Sheriff at 11:30 a.m. Friday that covered all roads east of Interstate 5 and north of Old Oregon Trail covering the area north to Shasta Lake.
The Shasta County Sheriff earlier issued a warning to those who refused to obey evacuation orders to stay in their homes late Friday morning, saying if they are seen in areas that have been evacuated they could be removed by authorities.
Cal Fire officials said Thursday afternoon that they will be seeking “arson to wildland” charges against Alexandra Souverneva, a 30-year-old Palo Alto resident.
Fawn Fire arson suspect Alexandra Souverneva of Palo Alto (Shasta County Sheriff’s Office)
Employees of the JF Shay and Mountain Quarries — located near where the fire started on Wednesday — told investigators they saw a white female “trespassing on the property and acting irrationally.”
On Wednesday evening, firefighters engaged in battling the blaze saw a woman — later identified as Souverneva — walk out of the brush and ask for medical help.
During an interview with Cal Fire and law enforcement, officers came to believe Souverneva was responsible for setting the fire. She was arrested and booked into the Shasta County Jail.
The fire was burning in steep, rugged terrain as windy conditions caused the fire to spot in many areas. As the blaze jumped the control lines, it forced at least 4,000 residents to flee their homes. More than 2,000 structures were threatened.
At least 25 structures had burned by late Thursday including several homes.
Raw video of destruction left by Fawn Fire
Deb Webb was among those who lost their home. On Thursday evening, she stood in what was once her front yard, emotionally devastated by what she was seeing.
“I was told they (local officials) thought it was gone, but I didn’t know,” she said with tears streaking down her face. “I see my life gone. Mementos of everything gone. My mother whose gone, I don’t have her ashes anymore, they were in the house. My brother’s gone, his ashes were in the house.”
“I love this place so much,” she said. “We’ve been here since 2006. I mean. My husband has cancer. I
mean, I’ve been dealing with so much. And then this.”
Deb Webb’s return to her burned down home
The flames continued to rage overnight, taking an even greater toll. .
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order Thursday morning for the community of Mountain Gate and evacuation orders were expanded several times Thursday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations now include:
- The community of Mountain Gate
- All roads off of Old Oregon Trail in both directions between Bear Mountain north to Interstate 5
- All roads north of Old Oregon Trail at Akrich north to Pine Grove and east of Interstate 5
- All of Holiday Road south of Old Oregon Trail
- All roads east of Dry Creek along Elk Trail east, north to Shasta Lake, and back down Dry Creek
In addition, an evacuation warning was issued for areas north of SR-299 and east of I-5. Redding police said Code Red notifications were being issued in that area. Residents who choose to evacuate were advised to head towards SR299.
A shelter was set up at the First Church of the Nazarene at 2255 Bechelli Lane in Redding. A temporary evacuation center at the Shasta College parking lot in Redding was closed because the area was also evacuated.