Bear Fire: Evacuations grow as firefighters see 'unprecedented fire behavior' in Oroville area

by 24USATVSept. 9, 2020, 9 p.m. 20
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The Butte County Sheriff ordered new evacuations for areas near Oroville early Wednesday morning as the Bear Fire continues to grow.

ABC10 is on the ground following the spread and survivors of the Bear Fire.

John Bartell drives through some of the devastation left behind in the wake of the blaze.

Watch as Mayde Gomez takes a look around the Butte County Fairgrounds, where an evacuation shelter has been set up due to the North Complex Fires, of which Bear Fire is one.

Firefighters working to battle the Bear Fire describe a difficult situation as the fire is exploding in size. The North Complex, which the Bear Fire is part of, has now burned 150,140 acres and is 38% contained.

The U.S. Forest Service said it is dealing with "unprecedented fire behavior" as the fire is spreading at a rate of 1,000 acres every 30 minutes. The latest reports show an additional 80,000 acres of fire growth to the southwest area of the original footprint for the North Complex.

The U.S. Forest Service says there will likely be more evacuations throughout the day.

This morning the Butte County Sheriff's Office issued a new evacuation warning for the north side of Highway 70 in the area of Lower Concow.

National Interagency Fire Center live map of the fire's location (it might take a few seconds for the fires to show up on the map):

More people are being warned to get ready to evacuate as the Bear Fire continues to grow in Butte County. The fire is part of the larger North Complex burning across three counties, Butte, Plumas and Lassen.

Early Wednesday morning, the Butte County Sheriff issued a new evacuation warning for areas of Oroville, Bangor and Palermo-Honcut. The warning includes the area of Highway 70 from Garden Drive south to Lower Honcut Road, Lower Honcut Road east to Bangor, and everything east to the current evacuation area.

Just after midnight, the Butte County Sheriff issued an immediate evacuation order for Cherokee Road at Highway 70, south to Thompson Flat Cemetery Road, and all areas east to Lake Oroville.

Butte County has relocated a temporary evacuation point to the Gridley Fairgrounds at 199 E. Hazel Street in Gridley. People at the temporary evacuation site are asked to stay in their cars. Representatives from Butte County and the American Red Cross will help with sheltering needs.

The Bear Fire is part of the North Complex, which has grown to 58,404 acres since first sparking on August 17. Crews have the fire 37% contained, which is a drop in containment from yesterday.

According to Cal Fire, in 2019, California wildfires burned just under 260,000 acres from 7,860 incidents. Over 700 structures were damaged or destroyed and three people were killed. This followed two years of some of the “deadliest and most destructive wildfires” in California history.

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