8 a.m. update

The Hat Fire off Hwy. 299 east and Fish Hatchery Road has increased to 2,500 acres and is now 15 percent contained.

Evacuations and road closures are still in place.

Original story

A fire that broke out off Highway 299 in eastern Shasta County in the Fall River Mills region was spreading at a "critical rate" and forcing road closures in the area Thursday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Evacuations have also been issued, according to officials.

Emergency dispatchers reported the fire was 300 acres as of about 4:50 p.m. and the Pit 1 Powerhouse was being evacuated. They said the fire had jumped both sides of Highway 299.

The Hat Fire reportedly broke out off Highway 299 near the Hat Creek rest area and sent a large plume of smoke into the air.

Meanwhile, the California Department of Transportation said Highway 299 was closing eastbound at Cassel Road and westbound at Glenburn Road.

Ron Lugton, who works at Fall River Valley Golf & Country Club, said the fire is about 7 miles from his work on Highway 299.

"Ash is raining down on us right now," he said shortly after 3 p.m.

By around 4 p.m., Lugton said he could hear fire engines passing by about every two minutes. But Lugton said he didn't feel threatened yet, and there were still golfers out enjoying themselves. He said he'd sound a horn if they needed to suddenly leave