Firefighters fully contain deadly 70,868-acre Butte fire

Butte fire contained

On Sept. 24, Daniel Hawkins, left, and his father, Steve Dowing, search through the remains of their Mountain Ranch, Calif., property, which was destroyed in the Butte fire.

(Andrew Seng / Associated Press)

The deadly Butte fire was fully contained this week after destroying hundreds of homes and scorching 70,868 acres in California’s Gold Country.

After burning for nearly a month in Amador and Calaveras counties, firefighters announced Thursday that they had stamped out the massive blaze.

The fire is the seventh most destructive in state history, consuming nearly 820 structures, more than half homes.

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The cause is under investigation, but Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said it may have been started when a power line came into contact with a tree.

Two deaths have been attributed to the Butte fire. Mark McCloud, 66, and Owen Goldsmith, 82, were residents of Mountain Ranch who refused to evacuate.

McCloud refused a neighbor’s offer for a ride and he tried to fight the flames himself, his friend Glenn Wharregard said.

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Flames swept through the tiny mining town of 1,600 people, leveling dozens of homes.

The Valley fire -- the third most destructive in California history -- was near full containment Friday. Four people were killed in the blaze.

The deadly blaze started three days after the Butte fire and has charred 76,067 acres in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties. Nearly 2,000 structures, including homes, multi-family buildings and commercial properties, have been destroyed.

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