Rocky Fire in Lake County Continues to Grow at Rapid Rate

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LAKE COUNTY --

The blaze: Unpredictable. The situation: Volatile. Some are even calling the Rocky Fire in Lake County historic.

“There are firefighters that have been on the job 20 to 35 years who have never seen fire behavior act this way,” said Captain Steve Kaufmann.

The Rocky Fire almost doubled in size within a matter of hours. It's now scorched about 54,000 acres. It is 5 percent contained.

The cause of the rapid growth: Extreme dry vegetation and the on-shore breeze that blew into the area Saturday evening.

Now, more than 12,000 people are being told to evacuate the area and Highways 16 and 20 are closed. It’s no longer the most welcoming route into Lake County.

Crews of 2,000 personnel began putting in back burns Saturday night in hopes of slowing down the energy of the main fire so it doesn't hop over onto Highway 20.

“It’s basically burning into the main fire so it's giving us a buffer from the actual main fire itself,” Kaufmann said.

In the meantime, other fire crews face their backs to the main blaze, monitoring the dry hillside across the road. It’s an intense and patient fight against Mother Nature to prevent another historic flare up.

“One of the things they are looking for is the embers on the side of the road and you can see how dry that is, and all we need is just one ember in there and then it's off to the races,” said Kaufmann.

Since the fire began, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, allowing the National Guard to mobilize and help with the firefighting efforts. In addition, President Obama allowed for federal disaster relief funding, which means federal resources will flow in.