Deadly Northern California fire destroys more than 1,000 homes
A flag flies in the charred rubble of a home on Aug. 11, 2018, in Redding, Calif.(John Locher / AP)
A helicopter drops water to a brush fire at the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore near Los Angeles,on Aug. 11, 2018.(Ringo Chiu / AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters stand watch on a roof as a wildfire sweeps through the area near Lakeport, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 2.(Kent Porter / AP)
A firefighter walks around a swimming pool sprayed by phos-chek fire retardant after an air tanker made a pass while fighting a wildfire near Lakeport, Calif., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.(Kent Porter / AP)
A tower of smoke pours from Cow Mountain as Burney, California firefighter Bob May keeps watch on surrounding vegetation for spot fires during a wildfire off Scotts Valley Road, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, near Lakeport, Calif.(Kent Porter / AP)
A 747 Global Airtanker makes a drop in front of advancing flames from a wildfire Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Lakeport, Calif.(Kent Porter / AP)
Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside, towering over homes off Scotts Valley Road, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, near Lakeport, Calif.(Kent Porter / AP)
Firefighters watch a back burn during the Mendocino Complex fire in Upper Lake, Calif., on July 31, 2018.(AFP/Getty Images)
Flames from a wildfire advance up a ridge, towering over a home that eventually burned, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, near Lakeport, Calif.(Kent Porter / AP)
A fire vehicle is parked ahead of an advancing wildfire on July 31, 2018, in Lakeport, Calif.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Fire damaged cars in the Keswick neighborhood of Redding as the Carr fire continues to spreads toward the town of Douglas City near Redding, Calif., on July 31, 2018.(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
A burnt out vehicle in the Keswick neighborhood of Redding, as the Carr fire continues to spreads toward the town of Douglas City near Redding, Calif., on July 31, 2018.(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
An air tanker drops retardant on a wildfire burning near Lakeport, Calif., on July 30, 2018.(Noah Berger / AP)
Flames from the River Fire lick behind a home near Finley, Calif., on July 30, 2018.(Noah Berger / AP)
A home burns as the River Fire rages near Finley, Calif., on July 30, 2018.(Noah Berger / AP)
A burned vehicle is seen in the mountain community of Keswick, Calif., on July 29, 2018.(Martha Mendoza / AP)
Boats sit at California’s Whiskeytown Lake on July 29, 2018, near where the Carr Fire originated.(Hector Amezcua / AP)
A California scrub jay perches on a burnt branch at California’s Whiskeytown Lake on July 29, 2018, in an area devastated by the Carr Fire.(Hector Amezcua / AP)
The completely wiped out mountain community of Keswick, Calif., is seen July 29, 2018, in the wake of devastation caused by wildfires.(Martha Mendoza / AP)
A firefighter walks along a containment line while battling a wildfire on July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
A firefighter walks near flames from the Carr Fire in Redding, Calif., on July 28, 2018.(Noah Berger / AP)
Matt Smith talks about how he fought an advancing wildfire and saved his home, while his neighbor’s home, in the background, burned down on July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
The Cranston Fire burns near the town of Idyllwild, Calif., on July 27, 2018.(Dave Mills / EPA)
A firefighter hoses down flames as a wildfire advances onto a residential district on July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Firefighters douse flames near homes as the Carr fire burns near Redding, Calif., on July 28, 2018.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop near Redding, Calif., in efforts against the Carr Fire on July 27, 2018.(Hector Amezcua / AP)
Flames leap above firefighters battling the Carr Fire in Redding, Calif., on July 28, 2018.(Noah Berger / AP)
A firefighter works to fight the Cranston Fire in Mountain Center, Calif., on July 29, 2018. Several fires in California have left five people dead, destroyed hundreds of homes, burned thousands of acres and caused evacuations.(Mike Nelson / EPA)
A fire truck drives along Highway 299 as the Carr fire burns near Whiskeytown, Calif. on July 28, 2018.(JOSH EDELSON / AFP/Getty Images)
A massive wildfire in Northern California has torched more than 1,000 homes in and around the city of Redding, authorities said Wednesday as some evacuees were allowed to return home.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said another 440 buildings, including barns and warehouses, have also been destroyed by the fire, which is now the seventh most destructive in California history.
The huge Redding-area blaze, which started July 23, forced 38,000 people from their homes and killed six. It has scorched 180 square miles and is 35 percent contained.
New blazes continued to explode and threaten more homes in what has become an endless summer of flame in the Golden State.
North of San Francisco, a fire threatened homes in an old ranching and farming area near Covelo. About 60 homes were ordered evacuated as the blaze erupted late Tuesday and winds whipped flames through brush, grass, oak, pine and fir near the Mendocino National Forest, officials said.
The area was only about 40 miles north of where twin fires in Mendocino and Lake counties have burned an area nearly three times the size of San Francisco, destroyed 10 homes and threatened 12,000 more.
The Lake County seat of Lakeport remained under evacuation orders and was a virtual ghost town, although people were allowed back home in several smaller communities as firefighters shored up containment lines. Containment grew overnight to 24 percent.
Jessyca Lytle fled a fast-moving wildfire in 2015 that spared her property but destroyed her mother’s memorabilia-filled Lake County home.
Lytle found herself listening to scanner traffic Tuesday and fire-proofing her mother’s new home as another wildfire advanced.
“Honestly, what I’m thinking right now is I just want this to end,” Lytle said, adding that she was “exhausted in every way possible — physically, emotionally, all of that.”
Paul Lew and his two boys, ages 13 and 16, evacuated Saturday from their Lakeport home.
“I told them to throw everything they care about in the back of the car,” said Lew, 45. “I grabbed computers, cellphones, papers. I just started bagging all my paperwork up, clothes, my guitars.”
Lew, who is divorced from Lytle, is camped out at the house in the nearby community of Cobb that she fled in 2015. He is watching over her chickens, sheep and other animals. With a laugh, he said repeated fire alerts have made him an emergency preparation expert.
“It’s like three a year,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy.”
To the east, another blaze Tuesday night raged through grassy cattle lands near Yuba City, covering more than 1 1/2 square miles (4 square kilometers) in a few hours.
The area is mainly a ranching area of barns and other buildings and no evacuations were ordered, said Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The new fires erupted without warning and spread with shocking speed through forest and brush that have literally become tinder.
“It just goes on and on,” McLean said.
“We had this rain at the beginning of the year and all that did was promote the growing of grass and brush,” McLean said. “It’s a Catch-22. It’s growing more product to catch on fire.
“We’ve never really been out of the drought,” McLean added. “We need several years of significant rainfall ... to bring California back.”
He also had a warning for people visiting rural and wilderness areas.
“Pay attention,” he said. “Don’t park the car on dry grass ... no campfires, no flame. It doesn’t take anything to start a fire right now.”
In Shasta County’s Carr Fire, Redding police on Tuesday asked for help from the public locating four people who are still missing. A relative identified the latest known victim as Daniel Bush, 62.
Bush had returned to his mobile home in the community of Keswick last Tuesday after undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery, but he was unable to drive and would have needed help to evacuate when the fire came through the neighborhood on Thursday, his sister, Kathi Gaston, told the Redding Record Searchlight.
Gaston said her brother had wanted to stay in his own home, but he had spotty cell service and, with the power out, he might not have gotten word of the fire.
Gaston said she could not get to her brother’s house because, with the fire approaching, sheriff’s deputies had blocked the roads and then she herself had to evacuate.
“If we’d been able to go in when we wanted to, he’d be alive right now,” she said. “I’m very upset about it.”
National Park Service officials said Tuesday that the scenic Yosemite Valley and other areas will be closed at least through Sunday due to heavy smoke from the so-called Ferguson Fire. The closure began July 25.
It was the longest closure at Yosemite since 1997, when floods closed the park for over two months.
Har reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writer Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco also contributed to this report.
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