Pope Valley school reopens after Valley Fire evacuations

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- State emergency officials flew over the Valley Fire burning in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties Friday morning. The blaze is now just under 74,000 acres and is 40 percent contained.

There is finally some good news for some of the fire victims. Evacuees who live in parts of Middletown, Hidden Valley and the north side of Cobb may be able to return home Saturday -- if they have homes to go back to.

People in Lake Berryessa were allowed to return Thursday.

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Part of the growing frustration is the lack of information about what properties burned and which ones did not. Beginning today, there will be a daily briefing at 1 p.m. at the Lake County Courthouse, 255 North Forbes, Lakeport,CA 95453.

A school that serves an area devastated by the Valley Fire reopened Friday for the first time since the evacuations began.

For students at Pope Valley Union Elementary School, it's a big step towards normalcy and recovery.

It is a good morning here in Pope Valley as a carload of kids showed up for class. Friday is the first day of school since the Valley Fire evacuation.

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"I think it's great. I am glad the school is safe," mom Jamie Evan said.

When asked what she's excited for today, Jamie's daughter Riley responded, "To play with my friends."

After a week of couch surfing, Jamie is happy to regain her normal routine. "It's nice to be home," she said.

That's why Principal Ken Burkhart felt so strongly about reopening the school, even on a Friday.

"It's important for the students to know that life will return to normal," Burkhart said.

He says teachers will spend a good portion of the day talking to students about their experience during the evacuation.

"It got really smoky and it got really dark and they told us to evacuate and so we did," one student said.

Not everyone returned though. Only 10 of the usual 29 students made it to the bus Friday morning.

"The ones that were there seemed really pleased to be on the bus and living their life, I guess," one parent said.

Attendance was voluntary Friday and only half the students showed up for class. The principal is hoping that on Monday, all 52 students will be back in school.

Click here for full coverage on the Valley Fire.

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PHOTOS: ABC7 News at the Valley Fire
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