Friday, July 4, 2014
JULIAN, Calif. (AP) — Crews scrambled Thursday to corral a wildfire that burned two homes in Southern California and threatened hundreds of others as an older, larger blaze endangered more homes in rural Northern California.
A blaze that erupted around 10:30 a.m. prompted the mandatory evacuation of 200 homes in central San Diego County near the mountain town of Julian.
Firefighters attacked the 150-acre blaze in the air and on the ground. The fire destroyed two homes and an outbuilding and was 15 percent contained, state fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.
Julian, an historic gold-mining town and popular tourist spot, canceled its Fourth of July parade and celebration.
There was no immediate word on what sparked the blaze.
The same area near Cleveland National Forest is where an 11-square-mile blaze destroyed more than 100 mountain cabins just a year ago.
Meanwhile, the fire in Northern California's Napa County grew to more than 6.5 square miles as the fire raced uphill. The steep and rugged terrain also forced firefighters to build containment lines without bulldozers, said Alicia Amaro, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze had scorched more than 4,300 acres by its third day, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. It has damaged nine structures, including the two homes.
The fire was burning to the north, away from the county's famed vineyards.
"It has not come anywhere close to what we consider Napa Valley wineries," said Cate Conniff, a spokeswoman for the Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit trade association. "It is moving in the opposite direction, and it continues to move that way. We're keeping an eye out on it."
Residents in nearly 200 homes in a subdivision in the county's Pope Valley were allowed to return after an evacuation order was lifted Thursday afternoon, but 180 others remained threatened, state fire officials said.
Despite the fire-containment level plateauing at 30 percent, the nearly 1,100 firefighters on the scene were making steady progress as temperatures climbed into the mid-90s, Berlant said.
However, "it's still growing at a faster rate than we can build containment lines. We're also seeing a bit of a warming pattern, and the winds are picking up as well," Berlant said. "This fire is taking a very aggressive run."
No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire remains unknown.
The fire exploded because of dry conditions across the state caused by the drought, Berlant said. Officials are hoping for full containment early next week.