Recently, firefighters in Northern California have been battling extensively to extinguish a large wildfire in the area. On Thursday, a day of light rain brought huge gains against the fire, and it dramatically reduced the number of homes that will be threatened by the flames from several thousand to just hundreds.
In addition to the decreasing number of homes that could possibly be affected, calls for evacuation in two local communities in the area were reduced from a mandatory to voluntary evacuation, leaving just one neighborhood under strict evacuation orders. This is according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. It was also said in a statement from a representative that it is still unclear how many people remained away from their homes, and how many decided to return.
The rains had brought tremendous fears of flooding and dangerous conditions in the King Fire’s huge burn area that is located east of Sacramento, but luckily the rain remained minuscule and light, and actually was helpful aiding in the firefight. A flash flood warning that was in effect for several hours during the early daytime hours was later called off in the early evening.
The blaze was about 55 percent contained (up from 43 percent at the beginning of the day), and showed no growth at all after burning almost 150 square miles and destroying more than a dozen homes near the town of Pollock Pines.
By the end of the day, state fire officials said fewer than 300 structures were still threatened. They put the figure at 12,000 when the day started. A spokeswoman with the U.S Forest Service stated that the rain is definitely allowing the firefighters to make progress on containing the fire. But, large areas of the fire are still not contained, so the blaze could potentially spread quickly when the rain stops.
Forecasters in the area stated that more rain may be possible come the weekend, and that caused fear for residents due to the fact that it could cause mudslides and slippery roads, making the firefighting even more dangerous.
Wayne Allen Hunstman, who is 37 years old, has been charged with the starting of the fire. He has pleaded not guilty to arson and will remain in jail on $10 million bail. This fire has earned a reputation of becoming the second priciest blaze in California this year, costing more than $50 million to fight since it began nearly two weeks ago. The state of California has spent more than $85 million fighting a fire in Klamath National Forest along the California-Oregon border. This fire is one of the nearly 5,000 wildfires in California this year, which is a 26 percent increase compared with an average year of about 3,900.