New wildfire in Northern California turns deadly

2015-09-21 07:06

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Middleton - A new wildfire in Northern California has killed one person and destroyed or damaged 10 homes in Monterey County, a week after two other blazes killed five people and destroyed at least 1 400 homes, fire officials said on Sunday.

The blaze burning about three kilometers north of the community of Jamesburg in Monterey County quickly grew to 485ha after starting Saturday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The person who died has not been identified.

Evacuation advisories were issued for residents of Jamesburg and the nearby community of Cachagua, Cal Fire said.

Farther north, two wildfires have destroyed 1 400 homes and continue to threaten thousands more, fire officials said.

Damage assessment teams have counted 888 homes burned in Lake County, many of them in the town of Middletown, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson Daniel Berlant said.

Berlant said teams are getting access to affected areas as firefighters make progress but that the count is far from over.

The fire, which killed at least three people and charred 303 square kilometres was 53% contained. Another 6 400 homes remain under threat.

"Our damage assessment team continues to go in and count home by home, structure by structure but they still have a ways to go before they are finished," Berlant said.

Heat descended on the wildfires

Another 535 homes were destroyed by a separate blaze that killed at least two people and that has burned 285 square kilometres in the Sierra Nevada foothills, about 274 kilometres southeast. That blaze was 70% contained on Sunday but continued to threaten thousands of structures.

Residents of Middletown, the area hardest hit by the massive wildfire in Lake County, were allowed to return home Saturday afternoon. Evacuation orders for other areas in Lake County remained.

The Lake County fire tore through 160 square kilometres in 12 hours, causing thousands of residents to flee after it ignited a week ago. About 19 000 people were ordered to evacuate.

A weekend of heat descended on the wildfires after several favourable days, raising fears that major gains could be undone.

That makes it essential that the smouldering remains of the two giant blazes be dealt with as quickly and thoroughly as possible, Scott Mclean, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said.

Read more on:    us  |  fires

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