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Last evacuation orders rescinded in damaging Lake County fire

Nearly 200 homes and businesses were destroyed in the tiny town of Lower Lake, which saw much of its downtown wiped out by the Clayton fire that started last Saturday.

Firefighters consider the cause to be arson, and have charged a 40-year-old man from the nearby city of Clearlake with starting the blaze.

The Clayton fire was 75 percent contained Friday afternoon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

But the Lake County fire is only one of six wildfires still burning in California, where miles of forestland has been dried out by five years of drought.

The largest one, the Blue Cut fire burning 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, has been 75 percent contained after burning through 58 square miles of small towns and wildlands, according to the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection.

More than 100 homes and 200 other buildings have been destroyed by the Blue Cut fire, which has burned more than 37,000 acres since it broke out Tuesday.

Other fires still burning in California include the Chimney fire in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, which has burned around 20,000 acres and forced the closure of historic Hearst Castle in San Simeon; the Rey fire in Santa Barbara County that burned more than 13,000 acres and is 10 percent contained; the Bird fire in San Joaquin County, which has burned nearly 150 acres and is 95 percent contained; and the Soberanes fire in Monterey County, which has burned more than 80.000 acres and is 60 percent contained.

Back in Lake County, two hours northeast of San Francisco, fire officials announced the reopening of several Lower Lake streets, including Main Street east of Highways 29 and 53, Lake Street south of Dam Road, Jesse Street east of Highway 53 and Morgan Valley Road at Butte Rock Ranch Road.

Authorities have charged Damin Pashlik of Clearlake with starting the Clayton fire and 11 other fires in the area since July 2, 2015.

Pashlik, a former construction worker who lived in a trailer in a residential portion of Clearlake, is being held in lieu of $5 million bail.

Pashlik was an inmate firefighter in 2007 while imprisoned on drug and firearms charges but was never called to extinguish any fires, the newspaper said.

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