Eureka-area residents are braced for evacuations as the Gibralter Ridge Fire east of town. The fire broke out Monday night, and by mid-afternoon Tuesday had exploded to over 1,400 acres.
Officials instituted mandatory evacuation orders for Sherman Creek, Griffith Creek, Therriault Pass and Stevens Creek. People in the Graves Creek area have been warned to be ready to evacuate.
Resident John Patterson told us he is doing everything he can to protect his home since spotting flames Monday night.
"I came out the back door over here to check on my dog, and I could smell the smoke and walked out over here by the chicken coop, and we could see the flames up there," he said.
Patterson lives in Glen Lake. At 2 a.m. Tuesday he started packing up and taking valuables to a friend's house away from the evacuation warning. But a trip to drop off his belongings didn't offer much comfort. The fire was bigger when he returned home.
"We went up the road here about a quarter of a mile," Patterson said. "We could see the fire out on the mountain up there, and the whole mountain was just completely engulfed."
Down the road we found homeowners putting sprinklers on their roofs, watering the ground and hoping for the best. Patterson and others know it could change in a hurry.
"It doesn't take long for this stuff to go," Patterson said. "It can do some damage really quickly."
The Red Cross set up a shelter at the Church of God at 1295 Second Ave. East in Eureka. Livestock can be taken to the fairgrounds, and we're told smaller animals and pets can be taken to the Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter.
A community meeting is planned for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Eureka High School.