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Butte Fire: Two Fatalities Confirmed, Containment Grows To 47 Percent

Cal Fire PIO Berlant / Twitter

A message from Cal Fire, with the Butte Fire burning in the distance on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

Cal Fire PIO Berlant / Twitter

6:47 p.m. - Cal Fire says containment on the Butte Fire has grown to 47 percent, with acreage burned holding at 71,780 acres.

Damage assessment shows 233 residences, 175 outbuildings and 15 other structures burned in the fire, with 6,000 additional structures still threatened. 

Officials ask that area residents remain vigilant, as the fire is still active in many areas. They also ask for people to assist by calling the appropriate authorities for specific situations:

  • If you see trees on a highway, please call Cal-Trans at 209-948-7543.
  • If you see trees on a County road, please call Public Works at 209-754-6402.
  • If you see any hazardous material or waste, please call Environmental Health at 209-754-6399.
  • If you see any fire danger or criminal activity, please call 911.
  • If you need to speak to a grief counselor, please call our local 24 hour mental health crisis line at (800) 499-3030.

5:08 p.m. Two bodies have been found in Calaveras County, apparent victims of the Butte Fire.

Calaveras County coroner Kevin Raggio says two bodies were found Tuesday inside their homes, which were destroyed by the Butte Fire.

Raggio says one is a 65-year-old man who refused to heed a mandatory evacuation order. He declined to identify the second victim, saying the family hasn't been notified.

Earlier this week, an elderly disabled woman was found dead in the ruins of her Lake County home, where the Valley Fire has destroyed 585 homes.

Dogs were being used Wednesday to search for a former police reporter and several other people who authorities fear also were killed in that fire.

2:19 p.m. The Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties is being blamed for the death of one person.

"We can confirm that one body has been found at Baker Riley and Jesus Maria roads and the death is Butte Fire related," says Sgt. Anthony Eberhardt, with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department.

The Calaveras County Coroner, Kevin Raggio, was still in the field and could not be reached for additional information.

The Butte Fire is 45 percent contained at 71,780 acres. It has destroyed 233 homes and 175 outbuildings and damaged 15 structures.

Evacuations in Amador County have been reduced to an advisory and people are returning to their homes.

12:26 p.m. Cal Fire announced via Twitter that all mandatory evacuations for the Butte Fire has been downgraded to advisories for areas outside the burn and areas inside the burn area North of Calaveras River.

8 a.m. - Meanwhile, in the wake of the Butte Fire, evacuees are repopulating parts of Calaveras County.

Pacific Gas and Electric has already restored power to 1,200 customers ,but 4,500 are still in the dark. In Amador County, areas once under mandatory evacuation orders are now open. Schools are also re-opening this morning.

Containment on the Butte Fire is now at 45 percent. It has blackened 71,780 acres acres.

Calaveras County is providing potable water in West Point, Arnold, and Valley Springs free of charge for residents who lost water access. The Red Cross provided shelter to more than one-thousand evacuees and meals to 45-hundred in the first five days of the Butte Fire.

7 a.m. Containment on the Butte Fire, east of Jackson in Amador and Calaveras counties, grew by 5 percent overnight.

It now stands at 45 percent. People are being allowed back into areas previously under mandatory evacuations. And schools in Amador County are re-opening this morning.

The Butte Fire has burned 71,780 acres.

Some evacuations were lifted for residents in the town of San Andreas and some parts of Calaveras County Tuesday night. Authorities advise those returning to be aware of safety concerns.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Cal Fire says PG&E were able to restore power to 1,200 residents in Calaveras County, though 4,500 customers remain without electricity.  Emergency fill stations have also been created for those who have lost access to water. 

6:30 a.m. - The number of homes destroyed by the Butte Fire has risen to 233.

The blaze in Amador and Calaveras Counties has charred nearly 72,000 acres and is 40 percent contained Wednesday morning. Fire investigators are working to determine what caused the massive fire.

People are being allowed back into areas that were evacuated earlier but Cal Fire warns that there are still emergency vehicles and firefighters working in the area. 

Schools in the Amador County Unified School District re-opened Thursday. Evacuations and power outages shuttered schools around the county since Sept. 11.