NAPA, Calif., Aug. 5 (UPI) — The largest of California’s active wildfires continued to frustrate firefighters Wednesday as it grew to nearly 70,000 acres and destroyed several homes.
The Rocky Fire, burning in northern California’s Napa Valley, started a week ago and has been spread by windy weather and drought-starved vegetation. Wednesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said raging flames have destroyed 39 homes, up from 24, and 52 outbuildings, and damaged four structures, the Los Angeles Times reported.
For the first few days firefighters contained the fire at about 5 percent. Wednesday, that number was at 20 percent, underscoring the difficulty crews have had so far dousing the flames.
Making conditions worse, officials said, hot temperatures returned to the Napa region Wednesday. Tuesday, cooler temperatures and light rain assisted firefighters in controlling the blaze.
Thunderstorms were forecast for Thursday, which might help crews or potentially ignite more fires.
“Fire activity and direction can change at any time, be prepared and stay informed,” Cal Fire officials said.
Officials said the fire has broken through containment lines and jumped a highway since it started July 29.
“This fire wants to do whatever it wants,” Cal Fire spokesman Jason Shanley said. “It’s defying all odds. Thirty-year, 40-year veterans have never seen this before.”
The Rocky Fire is one of numerous active wildfires across the state of California. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, which opened up additional resources and the National Guard, if needed.
California’s sustained drought has made much of the state a wildfire hazard. Nearly 4,000 firefighters and several aircraft are working to extinguish the fires across the state.
The cause of the Rocky Fire remains under investigation.