The Latest: Blaze destroys 233 Sierra Nevada foothills homes

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 16, 2015 2:05 AM
The Latest: Blaze destroys 233 Sierra Nevada foothills homes

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) — The latest on wildfires raging in drought-stricken California (all times local):

8 p.m.

The number of homes destroyed by a fire in the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills has risen to 233.

The blaze in Amador and Calaveras Counties has charred more than 112 square miles and was 40 percent contained on Tuesday. It is still threatening another 6,400 structures.

Forecasters say Northern California weather conditions are changing and the area could see some precipitation Wednesday.

___

7:15 p.m.

Fire crews are gaining ground against a devastating Northern California fire that has destroyed hundreds of homes.

Cal Fire says the blaze in Lake County was 30 percent contained Tuesday evening.

The blaze, which started Saturday, has charred 105 square miles and destroyed at least 585 homes.

___

5:45 p.m.

Fire investigators working to determine what caused a massive fire that decimated hundreds of homes in Lake County, California, have narrowed their focus to an area in the community of Cobb.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant says investigators on Tuesday were in an area near High Valley Road and Bottle Rock Road, where the blaze was first spotted.

He says what sparked the blaze that has consumed more than 104 square miles remains under investigation.

___

2:10 p.m.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the Obama administration is asking Congress to change the way the federal government spends money to fight wildfires.

Earnest says that under the current funding system, the Forest Service and parts of the Interior Department are using money "that was originally dedicated to preventing forest fires to actually fight the forest fires."

Earnest says that's a flawed strategy because when less money is devoted to wildfire prevention, it means more will have to be spent on firefighting.

He said Tuesday that the White House has asked Congress to change the funding system so programs that go toward preventing wildfires can be protected, while making sure there are sufficient resources to assist state and local firefighters who are trying to protect lives and property.

___

1 p.m.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office has lifted mandatory wildfire evacuation orders for dozens of residents in the small Central California communities of Dunlap, Miramonte, and Pinehurst east of Fresno.

California's largest active wildfire had charred 217 square miles of grass, brush and timber since it was sparked by lightning July 31. It was 40 percent contained Tuesday.

For the first time in more than six weeks, firefighters are getting a handle on the fire that now has flames simmering in places. It has also moved away from the Sierra Nevada's Giant Sequoia trees, some of which are 3,000 years old.

Fresno County is about 300 miles southeast of where another massive fire is raging in Lake County in Northern California.

___

11:45 a.m.

Scores of people are meeting at a high school in Northern California waiting to be escorted back to their homes to check on pets and farm animals after massive wildfires swept through the area.

The residents waiting at Lower Lake High School will be allowed to go into their homes and yards for 15 minutes to feed and give water to the animals.

Will Irons was headed to his home that is stilling standing in Hidden Valley with his two dogs that escaped the fire with him.

But he had to leave two cats, some chickens and a hamster behind. He is hopeful they are still alive.

Several horse trailers also are waiting outside the fire lines in Lower Lake to transport animals that may need refuge.

___

9:10 a.m.

A fire in the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills that has now charred nearly 112 square miles was more than one-third contained Tuesday.

Still, 6,400 structures remained threatened with evacuations in Amador and Calaveras counties. The fire has destroyed nearly 200 homes and outbuildings and damaged a dozen more.

East of Fresno, California's largest active wildfire has moved away from the Sierra Nevada's Giant Sequoia trees, some of which are 3,000 years old. The fire, sparked by lightning July 31, had charred 217 square miles and was 40 percent contained Tuesday.

___

8 a.m.

The deadly and destructive wildfire that sped through three Northern California counties has grown to 104 square miles Tuesday. It is now 15 percent contained.

For a third morning, people are waking up at evacuation centers, some still wondering if their homes are standing or leveled by the massive fire burning in parts of rural Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

At least four firefighters have been injured. One woman died in her home.

Authorities say 585 homes are known to be destroyed. More homes and structures are also known to be razed, but the exact number remained unclear Tuesday. Nine thousand homes remain threatened.

Authorities say some people also still remain unaccounted for Tuesday. But they could be staying with relatives, on vacation or elsewhere and not impacted by the fire.