Some evacuation orders north of Redding were lifted Saturday morning, although many residents remain displaced due to the highly active Fawn Fire and thousands of structures remain threatened by the blaze.
Cal Fire investigators suspect the fire was started by an arsonist about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Fawndale Road and Radcliff Road, between Redding and the shores of Shasta Lake.
The fire has since exploded in size, prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents. By Saturday morning, the fire had charred 7,544 acres of vegetation and had potentially damaged or destroyed about 100 structures in the area, according to Cal Fire.
The figure provided by Cal Fire was based on preliminary surveys; official damage assessment teams will be sent out starting Saturday to get more accurate evaluations.
Some evacuation orders nearer to Redding were also downgraded to warnings Saturday morning, allowing some residents to return home.
Areas north of Old Oregon Trail at Akrich Street up to Pine Grove, plus the area of Tierra Oaks, were reduced to an evacuation warning. Several evacuation warnings were dropped as well.
Many areas south of Lake Shasta and to the east of Interstate 5 remain under mandatory evacuation orders, however. Law enforcement agencies have provided a map of all active evacuation orders and warnings for the areas north of Redding.
An evacuation center has been set up at the First Church of the Nazarene on Bechelli Lane in Redding.
Cal Fire’s morning update indicated that 9,066 structures remain threatened by the fire, which is only 10% contained. Crews are anticipating improving weather patterns over the weekend and into next week — despite 15-mph wind gusts Saturday — which may help in the fire fight.
“Current winds continue to diminish as high pressure settles over the weekend,” Cal Fire officials said. “Rain is predicted starting late Monday through Tuesday afternoon.”
Air tankers were working to suppress the fire Saturday, with more than 1,660 fire personnel assigned to the Fawn Fire.
The Shasta County District Attorney’s Office filed felony arson charges on Friday against Alexandra Andreevna Souverneva, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of intentionally lighting the wildfire, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. The newspaper reported that the 30-year-old Palo Alto woman pleaded not guilty upon arraignment.
Souverneva is being held on a $175,000 bail, according to Shasta County jail records.
Cal Fire officials previously said that Souverneva was found Wednesday evening trespassing in a remote area of JF Shea and Mountain Gate quarry properties. She was spotted by employees and later approached firefighters seeking water and medical assistance. She was arrested after Cal Fire officials interviewed her.