A fast-moving fire that started Monday afternoon in Mendocino County has forced evacuations, including in the city of Willits.
The Oak Fire was reported at 12:16 p.m. off Big John Road about five miles north of downtown Willits. Resident Joseph Haggard told the Willits News that he was on the phone reporting flames to a 911 dispatcher when he heard a “big explosion that shook houses,” followed by multiple small explosions.
Evacuations were ordered within minutes for residents in Brooktrails, a semirural subdivision.
By 6:30 p.m., the fire was at 1,000 acres with no containment, said the Mendocino unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. One structure had been destroyed.
The evacuations were extended to a 40-square-mile area whose southern edge was at Willits High School. That zone is indicated by orange on the map above.
Highway 101 was closed Monday evening between Willits and Highway 162 (Covelo Road) in Longvale.
Latest updates can be found at the county’s official evacuation map.