Among the dozens of fires burning across California right now, the Rocky Fire, burning southeast of Clear Lake — about 80 miles north of San Francisco — is the largest and most dangerous. Local officials warned thousands of residents of two towns, Lower Lake and Clearlake, that they should be ready to evacuate. The fire had burned about 60,000 acres — 94 square miles — as of Monday morning and was only 12 percent contained. Fire crews from around the Bay Area and across the state are part of the fight, focusing largely on protecting structures the fire threatens.
Photographers Justin Sullivan of Getty Images and Josh Edelson of Agence France-Presse have been documenting the fire and filed the images in the gallery below.
Oceanside Fire Department Capt. Greg DeAvila shoots a flare into dry brush during a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on Sunday, east of the town of Clearlake. The tactic is meant to starve advancing fires of fuel. By Monday, 3,000 firefighters were battling the blaze, the state’s biggest so far this year.
Oceanside Fire Department Capt. Greg DeAvila monitors a fire deliberately set on Sunday to starve the rapidly advancing Rocky Fire of fuel.
An inmate firefighter patrols along Highway 20 outside of the town of Clearlake as crews conducted a firing operation to deprive the advancing wildfire of fuel.
Inmate firefighters monitor a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on Sunday, along Highway 20 near Clearlake. The inmates are part of a force of 3,000 fighting the blaze.
Kofawn Jones shakes hands with a police officer while preparing to evacuate as the Rocky Fire burned close to his home in Clearlake on Sunday. Cal Fire says more than 12,000 people have either been ordered from their homes or put on notice they may have to leave.
A column of smoke from the Rocky Fire rises above a shopping center in Clearlake on Sunday.
Firefighters monitor a backfire set ahead of the Rocky Fire in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 2
A Cal Fire truck is driven away from flames as the Rocky fire burns near Clearlake early Sunday morning.
Napa County firefighters waiting to be deployed on the Rocky Fire before nightfall Saturday.
Members of a Cal Fire crew take a break Saturday as the Rocky Fire continued to spread through the countryside east of Clear Lake.
Smoke billows from one front of the Rocky Fire on Saturday, just east of Clear Lake in Lake County.
A firefighting air tanker is silhouetted by the setting sun while battling the Rocky Fire on Saturday near the town of Clearlake.
Flames roar along a ridge east of Clear Lake as the Rocky Fire advanced Friday night.
A firefighter monitors flames from the Rocky Fire as it approaches a home Friday near the town of Lower Lake, at the southeastern end of Clear Lake.
A firefighter from the Sonoma County town of Windsor walks next to a wall of flames as he starts a back fire in tall dry grass while battling the Rocky Fire on Thursday. By Monday, the blaze had consumed 60,000 acres and was 12 percent contained.
Goats flee the Rocky Fire on Friday as the blaze burns through an area dotted with ranches.
Cal Fire firefighter Johnny Miller, left, and Cal Fire division chief Nick Schuler move chickens as the Rocky Fire approaches on Friday.
An air tanker drops fire retardant in an attempt to save a house during the battle to contain the Rocky Fire on Friday.
On Friday, flames framed a house east of the town of Lower Lake. By Saturday, thousands of nearby residents had been evacuated or alerted they needed to be ready to leave as the Rocky Fire advanced toward the southeastern end of Clear Lake. L
The same house, shortly afterward. Cal Fire said Saturday that the Rocky Fire has destroyed 14 homes and 16 outbuildings so far. Thousands more are threatened.
A Marin County firefighter takes a break amid 100-degree temperatures near the Lake County town of Lower Lake.
A wall of flames crests a ridge above a ranch southeast of Clear Lake on Thursday.
Thursday, a firefighting helicopter drops water in attempt to douse spot fire as blaze continued to spread near Clear Lake.
A car burned during the early hours of the Rocky Fire is pictured Thursday.
A charred landscape southeast of Clear Lake on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the start of the Rocky Fire.
The smoky aftermath of the Rocky Fire after it burned a swath of hilly terrain east of the town of Lower Lake.
Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.
Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.
In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.