Firefighters Slowly Get Upper Hand In California Wildfires

California Wildfires
Cal Fire Capt. Justin Galvan on Tuesday views his home, destroyed by the Valley Fire in Middletown, Calif. Galvan's father and sister also lost their homes to the blaze. Wildfires have sprung up again all over drought parched California. Photo by Mathew Sumner/UPI | License Photo

MIDDLETOWN, Calif., Sept. 16 (UPI) — Firefighters were slowly getting the upper hand early Wednesday on two massive wildfires in Northern California after one person died and hundreds of homes were leveled.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity have helped firefighters battle the deadly Valley Fire in Lake Napa and Sonoma counties. The 67,200-acre fire is about 30 percent contained after 585 homes were destroyed earlier in the week.

Residents in the Riviera community were allowed back in their homes late Tuesday after being evacuated as the flames encroached. More than 2,600 firefighters continued to battle the blaze. Four were injured.

Barbara McWilliams, 72, died when she couldn’t make it out of her home as the fire approached. The retired teacher had advanced multiple sclerosis and was found dead in the burned rubble of her home. Several other people in the area were missing.

Nearby, the so-called Butte Fire, affecting Amador and Calaversa counties, was 40 percent contained as of early Wednesday after 233 homes and 175 out buildings were destroyed. The fire has consumed 71,780 acres. Mandatory evacuations in the area have been lifted, but fires can return at any time, officials warned.

“As residents return to their homes, please remember that an active fire is still ongoing, use caution as emergency vehicles and personnel are still in the area and be alert to any changes in fire conditions,” officials said.


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