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article imageButte Fire threatens 6,400 homes - UPDATE Special

By Gar Swaffar     Sep 13, 2015 in Environment
San Andreas - The Butte Fire has been a roller coaster ride for the county seat in Calaveras County. Mandatory and advisory evacuations have been the orders of the past two days.
San Andreas has been the county seat of Calaveras County since 1866, but it has been a wild ride for the residents in town since the Butte Fire crossed the North Fork of the Mokelumne River on Wednesday of last week. Perhaps as rough as when the notorious highwayman Black Bart was tried and sent to prison there. Since that time, there have been mandatory evacuations ordered by the Calaveras Sheriff which were downgraded to advisory evacuations when the fire shifted with the winds in the area.
Tonight, Saturday September 12, the evacuation notices became far more real and far more permanent for San Andreas. The Calaveras Sheriff called for immediate evacuations of the eastern section of the historic gold rush town.
Those evacuations remain in place as reported at Cal Fire at this time for:
Mandatory Evacuation Orders:
San Andreas at Pope, West Murray Creek, Lewis, Miller, San Andreas Elementary, Goldstrike, Mountain Ranch East to Windmill, Wimbledon Drive, Forest Hill, and Turner Court. Please leave the area immediately.
On Friday afternoon, the fire had ballooned to more than 34,000 acres and was threatening more than 1,200 homes in Amador and Calaveras. The sky downwind in Tuolumne county looked like a scene from The Lord of the Rings as Frodo approached Mount Mordor.
The total acreage consumed in Amador and Calaveras counties has climbed to 65,000 acres and the containment has been brought up to 15% as of 9;15 p.m. PST
A photo from outside Angels Camp in Calaveras county on the north side.
Looking northwest from outside Angels Camp  Calaveras County.
Looking northwest from outside Angels Camp, Calaveras County.
Photo from the Tuolumne side of the Parrott's Ferry Bridge looking back toward Calaveras County.
The line which can be seen on the hillside in the foreground is the high water mark of New Melones Reservoir. The actual water level right now is roughly 100 feet below that mark. There is no lake at this time, this far up the river. It's back to being just a river. Or a rivulet would be a better description. If the Butte Fire gets this far, there is no natural barrier to stop it from crossing the river.
Looking toward Calaveras county from the Tuolumne County side of the Parrott s Ferry Bridge.
Looking toward Calaveras county from the Tuolumne County side of the Parrott's Ferry Bridge.
On Saturday morning the acreage had exceeded 64,000 acres and more than 6000 homes were threatened by the fire.
Cal Fire reports they have finally been able to get an assessment team into some of the areas burned over. At least 86 homes have been burned, with many more outbuildings also becoming ash fall downwind. This reporter has heard from friends in the Mountain Ranch area who have lost their home, their barns and maybe their livestock.
As the Cal Fire assessment teams are able to get further into the affected area, the number of homes lost is certain to go much, much higher. Much of the area is simply too dangerous to enter at this time. Trees burned nearly through but still standing only need the slightest breeze to fall in unpredictable directions.
Cal Fire's hopes are being placed on lower temperatures, and higher overnight humidity , along with a shift in the wind direction to move the fire away from the town of Murphy's. In the meantime residents in San Andreas are keeping an eye on the fire, literally, and hoping the evacuations remain advisory for the rest of the town.
This reporters son living in San Andreas notes the water tower which serves the town has been protected so far and is unlikely to suffer any damage. Blessings are where you can find them.
UPDATE: 9/13/2015 8:30 a.m..
The number of homes reported as being without power has dropped from 14,000 to less than 6,000.
The homes without power are largely those still in the evacuation zones.
UPDATE: 9/14/2015 6:30 a.m.
As of this morning there are new assessment figures for the number of homes lost in the Butte Fire. 135 residences have been lost, 79 outbuildings and 4 structures are reported by Cal Fire as having been burned.
The acreage edged up since yesterday to 71,063 acres, but containment also edged up to 30%.
Last night the temperatures were down in the area and there were a few bursts of rain which occurred. Not enough rain to put the fire out, but enough to slow the growth somewhat.
More about Butte fire, san andreas, Calaveras County, Wildfire, Amador county
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