November 30, 2023

From above, the neighborhood appears reduced to rubble, with only the outlines of homes left to mark where they once stood. Trees lay bare, and scorched cars sit covered in ash. Just days after the Mill fire engulfed parts of Weed, Calif., aerial photography shows in stark detail the devastating aftermath of wildfires.

The photographs were taken on Friday, the day the Mill fire started, and then two days later in the same locations by Nearmap, an aerial imagery company that uses a camera system attached to planes. The images captured the path of the fire, which first broke out near a lumber mill and then spread so quickly that there was little time for residents in the nearby neighborhood of Lincoln Heights to react.

At least two people were killed in the fast-moving blaze, the authorities said. More than 100 homes were destroyed. Entire suburban blocks in Weed were scorched, and a large warehouse was burned to nothing more than a pile of twisted metal.

The fire is not the largest, nor even the deadliest, that California has seen in recent years. But as the region grapples with extreme heat and drought, and as fires occur with growing frequency, incidents like the Mill fire have become all-too-familiar scenes for many in the area. In 2014, the Boles fire destroyed more than 150 homes in Weed, and the Lava fire burned more than 25,000 acres in the area last year.

The Mill fire was the first of two to erupt within hours in Siskiyou County on Friday as a record-setting heat wave descended upon Northern California.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Mill fire had consumed more than 4,200 acres and was over 55 percent contained, according to CalFire. Three people were injured and 117 buildings have been destroyed so far.

The second fire that started on Friday in Siskiyou County, the Mountain fire, was twice the size and just 20 percent contained.

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