Fire crews gain ground against California blaze

2015-08-06 21:22

A firefighter lights a backfire as the Rocky Fire burns near Clearlake. (Josh Edelson, AP)

A firefighter lights a backfire as the Rocky Fire burns near Clearlake. (Josh Edelson, AP)

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Lakeport - Firefighting crews are gaining ground against a massive blaze that has destroyed numerous buildings and driven thousands of people from their homes in California, but it may be several days before thousands of evacuees can return home, officials said on Thursday.

Four more homes were destroyed overnight, bringing the total number of properties lost to 43. More than 13 000 people have been ordered or urged to leave their homes, vacation cabins and campsites since the blaze started on July 29 about 160km north of San Francisco.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire, which has burned through more than 27 700ha of parched terrain, was 40% contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

It is the largest of 23 fires statewide and takes up nearly a third of the 10 000 firefighters dispatched in California.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho has listed the fire as the nation's highest priority for crews and equipment. August is the height of fire season.

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