Hundreds of evacuees who fled their homes as the erratic Rocky fire consumed nearly 70,000 acres have returned to their communities to find devastation in the blaze’s wake.
The massive fire destroyed 43 homes and 53 outbuildings, and eight structures were damaged as it quickly spread across Colusa, Lake and Yolo counties. While the fire appears to be slowing down and is now 45% contained, flames are still threatening 6,529 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
On Thursday, evacuation orders were lifted for 800 homes. As residents returned home, they found scorched hillsides, damaged roads and homes in ruins.
Layna Rivas told KCRA-TV Channel 3 that her Clearlake Oaks home and most of her chickens were consumed by the flames. Everything, she told KCRA, was gone. The scene was surreal and looked as though a bomb had gone off, Rivas said.
She told the station she saw one chicken wandering in the rubble.
On Friday, fire officials planned to lift evacuation orders for homes in the Spring Valley area at 10 a.m. California routes 16 and 20 also will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday, according to CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant.
More than 3,500 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started July 29 and is burning north of Napa.
Fire officials are concerned about pockets of intense heat that remain within the containment area. Fire activity, they say, may increase as humidity drops and temperatures rise again.
Thunderstorms overnight did not affect the Rocky fire, according to the National Weather Service.
Nearly 1,000 lightning strikes were logged across California.
A red flag warning, however, remains in effect throughout Northern California, where gusty winds and dry fuels increase the fire threat.
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