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Friday Updates: Containment Improves On Fires As Confirmed Death Toll Rises To 35

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

UPDATE 8:21 p.m.: Firefighting crews made significant progress Friday on containment lines around fires burning throughout northern California.

In Butte and Yuba counties, containment has increased to 75 percent on the 10,120-acre Cascade Fire and 69 percent on the 6,139-acre La Porte Fire. Evacuation orders were reduced to evacuation advisories for both fires as of 5:00 p.m. Friday.

The Tubbs Fire burning beteen Calistoga and Santa Rosa is 45 percent contained, and teh Atlas fire in Napa and Solano counties is 45 percent contained. NPR reported Friday that crews on the ground were beginning to express some optimism about their progress.

Skip to the bottom of this page for more numbers on fire size and containment.


UPDATE 5:32 p.m.: CAL FIRE says all evacuations orders for the Cascade and LaPorte fires in Yuba and Butte counties have been reduced to evacuation warnings.

The agency is cautioning evacuees returning home to be mindful of sparks and embers on roofs and exterior areas that may not be completely extinguished.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: (AP) - Authorities have confirmed three more deaths from the wildfires in Northern California, bringing the total to 35.

The raging fires have destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses.

California Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said Friday that the numbers make this the deadliest and most destructive series of wildfires in California history.

The Napa County Sheriff-Coroner says a forensic team found two more dead at a home there. They say one of the men killed was 89-year-old George Chaney, a retired doctor. The second man is believed to be 79-year-old Edward Stone.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office also confirmed another death, but provided no details.

UPDATE 4:53 p.m.: According to NPR News, the death toll is now 35.

UPDATE 3:27 p.m.: California fire officials say wildfires across the state have chased about 90,000 people from their homes.

The evacuation figure was released Friday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

CalFire says the majority of evacuations were for communities affected by fires in wine country north of San Francisco. Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the blazes have killed 32 people and destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses.

California officials say it will be weeks before they determine the causes of the wildfires.

CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott said Friday that 20 investigators alone are in Sonoma County looking into the cause and origin.

He said the process is very technical and painstaking, and investigators won't have information to disclose for "weeks to come."

Part of the problem is that much of the evidence was consumed in the fires. That means investigators must look for other clues to decide what happened.

They are not yet ready to say whether any were caused by downed or sparking power lines from the strong, gusty winds that plagued the state overnight Sunday into Monday.

UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: (AP) - Authorities say they have found another body in Sonoma County, raising the death toll to 32 and making this the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said Friday that 30 detectives continue to work on finding missing people and that his office has more than 200 pending reports of missing people.

Dozens of search and rescue personnel are on site at a mobile home park in Santa Rosa, California, searching for residents who didn't make it out before fire swept through.

Santa Rosa, a city of 175,000 people, was one of the hardest-hit communities during the wildfires that ignited Sunday night.

At least 9,000 firefighters from across the state and the country are attacking the flames.

UPDATE 12:51 p.m.: (AP) - Fire officials say thousands of firefighters have poured into California in the last 24 hours and that more than 9,000 are now fighting several major blazes.

CAL FIRE Director Ken Pimlott says the additional crews helped make gains overnight.

He says that two of the biggest blazes burning in Sonoma and Napa Counties are now at least 25 percent contained.

Pimlott says dangerous fire weather is forecast for this weekend and that additional fire crews and equipment will be ready to deploy should new fires ignite.

"If at any point people feel uncomfortable with where they're at, self-evacuation is recomended," Pimlott said. "Everyone needs to be thinking right now, what is my evacuation plan. You need to be thinking about that in minutes."

Blazes burning across eight counties have killed 31 people since Sunday and destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses, but cautioned those numbers are "fluid."

Meanwhile, dozens of search and rescue personnel are on site at a mobile home park in Santa Rosa, California, with the grim task of searching for residents who didn't make it out before fire swept through.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Thompson says officers recovered bone fragments from one person Friday morning. He says there's a "high probability" they'll find more.

Officials believe there may be two or three more bodies in the leveled remains of the mobile home park.

Thompson calls it "very tedious work." A crew of men and women in white suits are standing by.

Fire tore through the Santa Rosa area early Monday, leaving only a short window for people to try to escape from the flames.

UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: Cal OES is giving a live update on the fire response throughout the state. Watch below:

UPDATE 9:31 a.m.: CAL FIRE reports more than 8,000 firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across the state. Overall, the fires have burned 221,754 acres.

Firefighters continue to improve containment lines around the Cascade Fire northeast of Yuba City. CAL FIRE says it is now 55 percent contained, but steep terrain and heavy brush continue to pose a challenge.

There will be a community meeting for the residents affected by the Cascade and La Porte fires Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Browns Valley Elementary School.

Crews are also battling the Atlas Fire burning in both Napa and Solano counties. More than 2,000 Solano County residents remain under evacuation. CAL FIRE Staff Chief David Shrew says they got lucky Wednesday night as the winds weren't as strong as forecasters predicted.

“Those winds did pick up on the ridge tops and some of those valleys overnight," he says. "But fortunately they did not meet the speed or severity of which we experienced on Sunday evening. And it allowed those fires to spread very little with the troops on the ground.”

Shrew also says while they are stopping the fire's progress, it's still very active, especially near Lake Berryessa and the Green Valley area north of Fairfield. The Atlas Fire has burned more than 48,000 acres and is 27 percent contained.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for Suisun Valley, Green Valley, Rockville Road and Gordon Valley. Officials say they are keeping mandatory evacuations in place in case wind conditions change.

The Tubbs Fire burning north of Santa Rosa has barreled through more than 34,000 acres and is 25 percent contained. According to CAL FIRE, the fire's northern and eastern flanks are the most active and winds are spreading the blaze in multiple directions.

Since igniting Sunday in spots across eight counties, the blazes have killed 31 people and destroyed at least 3,500 homes and businesses.


Fire Numbers

101317 804pm Fire NumbersNumbers last updated Oct. 13 at 8:04 p.m.

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