Calif. Woman Dies in Wildfire
Sep. 21, 2000
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) _ A forest fire engulfed a woman's home on Wednesday, killing her and injuring a firefighter who stayed until the last minute trying to persuade her to leave.
The fire, about three miles from Paradise in northern California, started Tuesday and grew to more than 1,600 acres during the night. Crews had expected to contain it by Wednesday morning but shifting wind carried flames across containment lines, California Department of Forestry officials said.
A voluntary evacuation order had been issued for the Paradise area, affecting about 1,000 people.
A captain from the forestry department tried to talk the woman into leaving early Wednesday, but she refused, said Karen Terrill, CDF public information officer.
``He stayed as long as he could, then he sustained injuries and had to leave,'' Terrill said. She said the captain was treated for burns on his hands and face.
Paradise Fire Chief Jim Broshears said firefighters can't force people to leave. ``Once someone has left an area we can close it and not let them in,'' he said. ``Otherwise we can strongly advise that they leave and that there's an immediate threat.''
At least seven other people were injured fighting the blaze, which destroyed the woman's home and another structure. One person was struck on the head by a falling tree, but was expected to return to work within a few days, Terrill said. Six others were injured when the fire overran two fire trucks. None of the injuries was serious, she said.
Schools in the area, about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, were closed Wednesday because of smoke.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation.
On the Net:
Dept of Forestry: http://www.fire.ca.gov/