Nearly 1700 Homes Destroyed by California Wildfires

September 22, 2015

It has been several days since two huge wildfires in Northern California peaked in their ferocity, yet the damage they did is still being revealed daily.

Crews who made gains overnight on one of the worst wildfires in the state’s history are mopping up hot spots and strengthening control lines north of San Francisco.

The Valley fire, which has killed at least three people and destroyed nearly 1,700 homes and other buildings, was 70 percent contained Monday. About 3,500 homes are still threatened by the blaze, considered the fourth-worst in state history based on total structures burned.

Officials say crews assessing damage this weekend counted 162 more destroyed homes. The fire has charred 118 square miles.

A much smaller blaze south in Monterey County was 30 percent contained after destroying 10 homes. Firefighters found a body inside a charred vehicle after the fire began Saturday, but investigators are looking at the man’s death as a possible suicide.

“Some of the homes are tucked back in rural areas, so it’s taken time to reach them,” state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

A separate blaze in Lake County, about 170 miles northwest, has destroyed 888 structures, at least 585 of them homes. It has killed three people.

Residents of Middletown, the area hardest hit by the massive wildfire in California, were allowed to return home Saturday afternoon. Evacuation orders for other areas in Lake County remained.

The Lake County fire tore through 62 square miles in 12 hours, causing thousands of residents to flee after it ignited a week ago. About 19,000 people were ordered to evacuate. The blaze had charred 116 square miles and was 50 percent contained Saturday.

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