Thousands evacuate Butte County fire

July 9, 2008 11:52:41 PM PDT
Thousands of firefighters are trying to contain more than 40 fires in Butte County. CAL FIRE says the fires are threatening communities along Highway 70 in the Paradise area.

The flames are burning across the Feather River from paradise and CAL FIRE is worried the fire could jump the river, and threaten thousands of homes. Many homes have already burned in Concow.

The Butte County fires are still out of control. What's worse is that aerial drops are impossible in the area because of poor visibility.

More than 10,000 residents have now been evacuated, and at least 50 buildings have burned down.

It was a frustrating start for firefighters. They had lost ground on the Camp Fire. Early numbers show containment fell from 55 percent to 40 percent overnight.

"Mother Nature carried this fire. And we're going to battle it once again," said Riverside County firefighter Mike Mohler.

Winds again are the enemy, making crowning in this heavily wooded area of Butte County a problem because flames hop from treetop to treetop.

"Crowning is when the fire gets up in the canopy of the trees and runs independent of the ground fire. It's a lot harder to control," said Captain Geoff Belyea from CAL FIRE St. Helena.

The crowning problem is why evacuee Timothy Correll thinks he lost his home. No one has been allowed back into their residences yet, so they're left to wonder and wait.

"We had tall canopy trees all around our home. We heard so many explosions from propane tanks. It's frustrating. You just know it's gone," said Correll.

But firefighters were determined to prevent more homes from burning up. This crew from the Wine Country is clearing the brush from property that does not have defensible space.

How much longer crews can stay at their assigned home is questionable. Resources are being moved to the nearby community of Paradise.

The fire has moved into the canyon between Concow and Paradise. Some residents have already been evacuated as a precaution.

Here is an example of unattended, raging fire. There are no firefighters here because no homes are in danger. That's just what happens when your resources are limited.

Evacuees know that and also realize the heat wave tires them out faster, all they can do is hope and pray.

"They're doing the best they can. There's not much more than can do. They're working their butts off," said evacuee Saskia Robinson.

To help illustrate how spread thin the state is, CAL FIRE is asking the publics' help to report any new fires. Apparently they don't have enough people to check that out themselves.


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