All California wildfires under control for first time in months

For the first time in months, wildfires across California are under control or nearly there, according to state and federal firefighting agencies.

Two of the state’s biggest wildfires -- the 98,000-acre King fire in El Dorado National Forest and the 133,000-acre Happy Camp Complex fires in Klamath National Forest -- are 98% and 97% contained, respectively, according to the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The King fire started Sept. 13; Wayne Huntsman, a 37-year-old Pollock Pines resident, has been accused of intentionally setting it. The blaze forced many of the town’s residents to evacuate as it tore through steep mountainsides and burned more than 80 structures, including 12 homes.

The blaze should be fully contained by Wednesday, CalFire said.


The Happy Camp Complex fire burning near the Oregon border, meanwhile, continues to burn itself out. On Friday, Klamath National Forest officials reopened about 100 square miles of park west of the fire to campers and hunters. The blaze has so far cost $87 million to fight, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The two fires mark the end – at least temporarily – of a recent spate of fast-moving, highly destructive wildfires that have raced across parched forests and isolated mountain towns.

But it may be only a temporary reprieve. October is the traditional start of California’s fire season, though officials have warned that because of the state’s prolonged drought, the danger has been ever-present.

Over the last 10 months, CalFire has fought at least 1,000 wildfires more than they do in an entire average year. In responding to nearly 5,000 blazes this year, agencies also have burned through the state’s $209-million wildfire-fighting budget, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to tap $70 million more from a reserve account.


For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.