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article imageEvacuations lifted as firefighters control California wildfire

By Nathan Salant     Aug 9, 2015 in Environment
Clearlake - Hundreds of residents of the Northern California counties of Lake, Colusa and Yolo were allowed to return to their homes Saturday after firefighters gained control over an unpredictable fire that burned more than 100 square miles of scenic hill country.
State fire officials said the Rocky fire was now 70 percent contained after burning dozens of homes and oubuildings in the rural counties northeast of San Francisco.
Firefighters were able to make progress against the flames on Friday with the help of cooler weather, higher humidity and reinforcements from other states, according to Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Sacramento.
"We still have a lot of work to do until we can get good containment all around the fire so it doesn't become active again," Berlant said, according to the Associated Press.
More than 1,200 people were evacuated at the height of the fire, which jumped fire lines and, for a time, threatened even more homes in the drought-parched state.
California has had inadequate rainfall totals for the past four years.
More than 3,600 firefighters were called in to battle the flames at one point but the fire has been reduced to creeping and smouldering, Berlant told the AP.
Reinforcements were brought in from Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona to relieve firefighters who had been on the front lines for two weeks straight, Berlant said.
More windy weather forecast for this week raises concerns about the fire flaring up again, Berlant said.
But the apparently successful battle to hold off the Rocky fire does not relieve the sadness of residents who lost their homes and animals in the flames.
Layna Rivas, who lives at an artists' compound up a dirt road in Lake County but had to evacuate with her dogs and cats last week, told the AP that her home looked like it had been destroyed by an explosion.
"It looked like a bomb went off everywhere," she said.
And while the Rocky fire appears to finally be on the way to being extinguished, more than a dozen other wildfires are burning in California, particularly in lumber-rich Humboldt County, the AP said.
The persistent flames also are threatening habitat for endangered Northern California plant and animal species, the AP said.
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