NAPA VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 2 (UPI) — A massive wildfire that has flamed nearly 50,000 acres in Northern California’s dehydrated wine country continues to worry fire officials, who have barely been able to get a handle on the blaze after four days of trying.
The Rocky Fire in the Napa Valley has destroyed at least 50 structures so far and is threatening 6,300 more, officials said Sunday. The blaze is so far 5 percent contained — the same containment figure firefighters reported Friday evening.
Winds and dry vegetation in the drought-stricken region have only served to fuel the flames, which officials said nearly doubled in size between Saturday and Sunday. The Rocky Fire is burning in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties — which lie to the northeast of the San Francisco metropolitan area.
The Napa blaze is one of nearly two dozen wildfires burning across the state of California Sunday. Thursday, a South Dakota firefighter died while assisting the U.S. Forest Service in fighting the Frog Fire in nearby Adin, in Modoc County.
California has been mired in a severe drought since 2011, which has upped the wildfire risk considerably. Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.
So far, 24 homes and 26 “outbuildings” have been destroyed by the fire and numerous communities have been evacuated, officials said.
“In total, all evacuations impact over 12,190 citizens living in over 5,201 residences,” Cal Fire said on its website Sunday. “Firefighters continue to construct fire line in an effort to achieve full perimeter control.”
Also, portions of Highway 20 and Highway 16 were closed due to increased fire activity.
“We can see the smoke and it appears to be blowing near us,” resident and local country club official Ted Mattila told CNN. “We are open for business and hoping the wind blows the other way, because we have two tournaments [Sunday],”
Cal Fire, known officially as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, has regularly updated their progress with the Rocky Fire via Twitter and has broadcast live images and news conferences.
“Current strategic constraints include lack of access to areas of the fire, very hot and dry weather, critical fuels and changing winds,” the agency said Saturday.
Nearly 2,000 fire personnel are fighting the Rocky Fire with the assistance of 180 engines, four air tankers and 19 helicopters.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
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