UPPER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — 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 (470 square kilometers) 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 (64 kilometers) 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.