The Yurok Tribe has declared a state of emergency in a 500-acre fire that has torched at least one home, with arson as the suspected cause.
As of 6:30 a.m. on August 26 the blaze had destroyed two structures and threatened 40 on the reservation, according to the state agency CalFire.
Besides causing several evacuations, the fire burned power poles and lines, which cut power to many residents, the Yurok Tribal Council said in declaring the emergency on August 24. Residents described fleeing the fire, and not knowing what they would return to, reported KRCRTV News, an ABC affiliate.
“Our hearts go out to all of the people that have been affected by this fire,” said Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. in a statement. “We will do everything we can to help the evacuees stay safe, sheltered and supplied with food, while they are out of their homes.”
The declaration was called in order “to mobilize a coordinated Tribal response to this crisis,” the tribe’s media release said. The council also passed a resolution to provide assistance including food, water and temporary housing to evacuees.
The 571-acre fire was just 20 percent contained as of Friday morning, CalFire reported. According to the tribe, the fire has been burning since Monday August 22, where it started in the afternoon on the eastern side of the Yurok Reservation. Native and non-Native residents alike live in the threatened homes, the tribe said. Tribal staff went door-to-door conducting welfare checks and informing residents about the blaze, which was being battled by 800 firefighters.
“We would like to sincerely thank the hundreds of fire personnel that rapidly responded to the reservation to help us,” O’Rourke said, adding that those who started the fire will be caught. “The individual or individuals responsible for starting this fire must be held accountable.”