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Wildfire Updates: 1 Dead In Soberanes Fire, Sand Fire Now 65 Percent Contained

Nic Coury / AP

Smoke from a wildfire spreads over woods, as seen from White Rock in Carmel Valley, southeast of Monterey, Calif., Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

Nic Coury / AP

UPDATE: 1:05 p.m.: (AP) - The sister of a bulldozer operator killed in a Northern California fire described her younger brother Thursday as someone who always wanted to help.

Authorities identified the operator killed Tuesday as 35-year-old Robert Reagan of Fresno County. He died when the piece of heavy equipment overturned.

Hannah Cunnings told the Associated Press that Reagan was the kind of person who would offer to put snow chains on your car or fix an engine that needed fixing.

"Even since he was a boy he just really wanted to help people," she said, crying.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office said Reagan is survived by a common-law wife and two young daughters. Cunnings said her brother and his wife also cared for a young niece.

UPDATE: 12:05 p.m.: (AP) - Authorities say that a group of people rescued by Monterey County Sheriff's deputies Tuesday during a wildfire near California's Big Sur denied being marijuana growers, but the deputy did not believe them.

Sgt. Kathy Palazzolo said Thursday that one of the seven people in the group told a deputy they were backcountry hikers caught in the fire, but the deputy reported that they were not dressed as hikers.

Another spokesman for the department told the Monterey Herald they appeared to be illegal marijuana growers.

Palazzolo says a separate group of four walked out of the area earlier this week. They acknowledged growing marijuana.

On Thursday, the county identified the bulldozer operator killed in the fire as 35-year-old Robert Reagan of Fresno County.

The fire has torched 34 homes and prompted the evacuation of 350 homes.


Crews working around the clock took advantage of cooler overnight weather as they braced for a spike in daytime temperatures near California's Big Sur. A wildfire there has destroyed 34 homes and killed a bulldozer driver working to contain the blaze.

Forecasters say humidity is expected to drop Thursday while temperatures will rise into the upper 80s. However, the more than 3,000 firefighters could get a break if winds remain light in Monterey County. At least 34 structures have been destroyed in the fire, dubbed the Soberanes Fire, which has charred 27,326 acres. It's just 10 percent contained

To the south, the Sand Fire, which gutted 18 homes on the northern edge of Los Angeles County was 40 percent contained late Wednesday. It has burned 38,346 acres of brush, mostly in forest land near Santa Clarita.