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Wildfire Updates: Crews Build Containment Around Destructive California Fires

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

This Saturday, July 7, 2018, photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows a helicopter dropping water in concert with firefighters on the ground trying to extinguish stubborn smoldering areas of a fire in Goleta, Calif.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

UPDATE 12:30 p.m., Wednesday. July 11

The County Fire burning in Yolo and Napa counties was started by an improperly installed electric livestock fence, according to Cal Fire.

The responsible party has been cited for burning another person's land, according to Cal Fire's news release.

The fire is currently 86 percent contained after burning 90,288 acres. Twenty structures have been destroyed in the fire.

UPDATE 9:42 a.m., Wednesday, July 11

The County Fire in Yolo and Napa counties is 86 percent contained and has burned 90,288 acres, according to Cal Fire. 

All evacuations have been lifted, but County Road 40 at State Highway 16 and all roads within the fire’s perimeter are still closed. The fire has destroyed 20 structures since it started on June 30.

The Klamathon Fire burning near the Oregon/California border is 60 percent contained and still sitting at 36,500 acres. Evacuations are still in place throughout the Copco Lake area. Find the latest evacuation information here.

UPDATE 3:26 p.m., Tuesday, July 10

The County Fire burning east of Lake Berryessa in Yolo and Napa Counties is now 80 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

All evacuations have been lifted but some road closures remain in place. Find the latest information here.

UPDATE 12:28 p.m., Tuesday, July 10

The Klamathon Fire in Siskiyou County is 45 percent contained at 36,500 acres. See the latest evacuation information here.

UPDATE 9:43 a.m., Monday, July 9

The Grant Fire east of Oakland is now 100 percent contained after burning 640 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The Klamathon Fire that started in Siskiyou County has burned 35,250 acres and is 30 percent contained after it jumped the Oregon border last night. So far, 81 structures have been destroyed, three firefighters have been injured and one civilian has died in the blaze.

Evacuations are still in place for the communities of Hornbrook, Hilt, Colestin and Irongate Reservoir and for parts of the Klamath River Estates and the Copco Lake area. The latest evacuation information can be found here.

The County Fire is still 73 percent contained and has scorched 90,288 acres. The fire has destroyed 16 structures.

UPDATE 7:08 a.m., Monday, July 9

(AP) — Firefighters continued to build containment around several destructive wildfires burning in California, though one stubborn blaze in the northern part of the state grew significantly and crossed the border into Oregon.

The blaze on the California-Oregon state line known as the Klamathon Fire grew to 55 square miles (142 square kilometers) and leapt into Oregon overnight. It was 25 percent contained.

The fire, one of many in the drought-ridden U.S. West, killed one person in their home and destroyed 72 structures, including houses.

It also injured three firefighters, including one who had severe burns to his face, according to a Gofundme page that raised more than $28,000 for him in less than 24 hours.

The Cal Fire firefighter, Brandon Feller, was injured battling the blaze the day it broke out on Thursday but was making a strong recovery, according to the page.

More than 2,300 firefighters continued to fight the fire Sunday amid low humidity and strong winds. Crews were hoping to keep it from jumping a river and threatening additional communities.

"They made some really good headway on holding the fire so we're just hoping we can keep it there," said Suzi Brady, a spokeswoman for the crews fighting the fire.

A 500-acre wildfire flared up Sunday night and temporarily shut down Interstate 580 at the Altamont Pass, which is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Oakland. The Alameda County Fire Department said westbound lanes reopened after about an hour.

The Grant Fire was 20 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said.

The state's largest blaze, the 141-square-mile (365-square-kilometer) County Fire, was 73 percent contained. It has destroyed a dozen structures since it broke out June 30.

Meanwhile in heat-stricken Southern California, crews have built at least 80 percent containment on two major wildfires — one that destroyed 20 homes in Santa Barbara County and a central San Diego County fire that burned 18 structures.

Other major fires in the state were close to being fully contained.

Capital Public Radio staff contributed to this report.

UPDATE 12:24 p.m. Sunday, July 8

(AP) — Firefighters have been able to build containment around several destructive wildfires burning in California.

Officials said Sunday that the 48-square-mile (30,500-acre) blaze on the California-Oregon border known as the Klamathon fire is now 25 percent contained. It's one of many fires burning around the drought-ridden states in the U.S. West.

The fire killed one woman in her home and destroyed 72 structures, including homes.

Crews have built at least 80 percent containment on a the Holiday Fire, which destroyed 20 homes in Santa Barbara County, and the West Fire, a central San Diego County fire that burned 18 structures, is now 81 percent contained.

The state's largest blaze, the 138-square-mile (88,525-acre) County Fire, is 57 percent contained. It has destroyed 10 structures since it broke out June 30.

Other major fires in the state, including the 15,185-acre Pawnee Fire in Lake County and the 790-acre Irish Fire in Amador County, are close to being fully contained.

The Valley Fire in San Bernardino County is 1,139 acres and 5 percent contained.

The governor declared states of emergency in Siskiyou, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties this week due to fires.

Capital Public Radio staff contributed to this report

UPDATED 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 7:

New Wildfires Sweep Through California, Burning Homes

By JOHN ANTCZAK,  Associated Press

(AP) — Firefighters toiled in stifling heat Saturday on the lines of destructive wildfires across the U.S. West, making progress against some blazes while struggling to tame others that have forced evacuations of hundreds of homes.

In heat-stricken Southern California, powerful winds that sent an overnight inferno hopscotching through the Santa Barbara County community of Goleta vanished in the morning, allowing firefighters to extinguish smoldering ruins of an estimated 20 structures, including homes.

"It's really given us a good opportunity to get in there and get some work done," said county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni.

The fire's spread was stopped at about 100 acres (40.5 hectares) or less and teams were working on an accurate tally of damage in the neighborhood, where some houses were in ruins while homes next door were intact.

Eric Durtschi stood outside his destroyed house, where a burned-out car stood in the driveway and kids' bicycles were strewn about.

Durtschi, his wife and six children had left Utah and moved in just a few weeks ago. He said he hadn't yet told his two oldest children their home was gone. He managed to collect his severely burned vintage guns, hoping to salvage them.

A neighbor's home across the street was spared. The man had stayed through the night spraying down other people's houses.

Elsewhere in Southern California, firefighters increased containment of a central San Diego County fire that rapidly spread over 400 acres (162 hectares), destroyed 18 structures and damaged eight, and a wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest was holding at 1.5 square miles (404 hectares) and forced evacuation of about 700 homes in the mountain community of Forest Falls.

Fires also burned on the Marine Corps' sprawling Camp Pendleton base in northern San Diego County.

The Southern California fires erupted Friday as strong high pressure over the West spawned an epic heat wave that saw parts of Los Angeles broil in temperatures up to 117 degrees (47.2 Celsius). There was little relief overnight.

"Temperatures at 8 a.m. were ridiculously over 100 degrees" in foothills near Forest Falls and many inland valleys, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters said the region's siege of heat would gradually ease through the weekend, but the unstable air mass unleashed downpours that triggered flash-flood warnings for the mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

Further up north and just south of the California-Oregon border, the 34-square-mile (88-square-kilometer) Klamathon Fire in rural Siskiyou County was just 5 percent contained. The body of a resident was found Friday in the ruins of a home, among 15 destroyed structures tallied so far.

Authorities described "extreme fire behavior with movement in multiple directions," with threats to the California communities of Hornbrook and Hilt as well as Colestin, Oregon. Ray Haupt, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said losses included homes and livestock.

Elsewhere in California, the 138-square-mile (357-square-kilometer) County Fire northwest of Sacramento was nearly 50 percent contained. Ten structures were counted destroyed but damage assessments were continuing.

In Utah, authorities allowed the return of some residents who fled a wildfire near a popular fishing lake 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Salt Lake City. The blaze has burned about 75 square miles (193 square kilometers) and destroyed 90 structures, including homes, cabins, sheds and garages, since starting Sunday in the mountains.

In Colorado, firefighters took advantage of occasional rainstorms to extend their containment lines at several large wildfires.

In the south, crews Saturday contained about 45 percent of a 167-square-mile (433-square-kilometer) fire that has destroyed more than 130 homes, while in Rocky Mountain ski country firefighters from 20 states were battling an 8-square-mile (22-square-kilometer) wildfire above the Roaring Fork Valley. Commanders said they hoped for one-third containment by late Sunday.

Crews also had 50 percent containment of a southwestern Colorado fire that has blackened 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) north of Durango. Authorities said Saturday that afternoon storms could produce flash floods and mudslides in burn scars.

And in central Colorado's Park County, crews encircled a third of a spotty fire that forced the Buffalo Creek Wilderness to close. A stretch of busy U.S. Highway 285 between Fairplay and Antero Junction reopened Saturday.


Associated Press writers Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Jim Anderson in Denver and freelance photographer Noah Berger in Goleta contributed to this report.

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