Wildfires wane: Evacuees return, damage assessed

2017-07-12 18:51
A truck burned by a wildfire in a grove near Oroville. (Noah Berger, AP)

A truck burned by a wildfire in a grove near Oroville. (Noah Berger, AP)

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Oroville - Relief was arriving after a rough stretch of wildfires all around the US West, with firefighters slowly surrounding once-fierce blazes and evacuees starting to stream back home.

Authorities surveying the damage from a blaze in Northern California said on Tuesday that at least 41 homes and 55 other buildings had been destroyed near the town of Oroville.

Some residents had returned home after fleeing the flames in the grassy foothills of the Sierra Nevada, about 100km north of Sacramento, but thousands remained evacuated as the fire entered its fifth day. The blaze burned nearly 23km² and injured four firefighters. It was 55% contained.

Crews were making progress against dozens of wildfires across the western US.

In Colorado, crews were winding down the fight against a wildfire that temporarily forced hundreds of people to evacuate near the resort town of Breckenridge. Firefighters built containment lines around at least 85% of the blaze.

In Arizona, recent monsoon rain has helped stop the growth of a wildfire in mountains overlooking Tucson and an evacuation order for the summer-retreat community of Summerhaven has been lifted.

In Nevada, fire crews were getting the upper hand on a wildland blaze that shut down US Interstate 80 along the Nevada-California line most of Tuesday.

New fires

Three new California fires made trouble on Tuesday.

One of them, just east of San Jose, destroyed two homes before its growth was stopped.

Another broke out in San Diego County and quickly surged to 1.5km². It forced the temporary closure of Interstate 8 and the brief evacuation of 15 families in Alpine, a town of 15 000 people about 80km northeast of San Diego.

In Northern California, the Placer County Sheriff's Office issued mandatory evacuations along four roads near afire burning north of Auburn.

In Santa Barbara County, at least 3 500 people remained out of their homes due to a pair of fires.

The larger of the two charred more than 116km² of dry brush and has burned 20 structures since it broke out. It was 60% contained.

To the south a 46km² wildfire that destroyed 20 structures is 48% contained.

Read more on:    us  |  wildfires

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