MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) – The latest on wildfires raging in drought-stricken California (all times local):
A wildfire north of San Francisco that has destroyed 1,050 homes so far this month is the fourth worst wildfire in the state’s history based on total structures burned.
A 1991 fire in the Oakland Hills ranks as California’s deadliest fire and its worst in the number of structures (2,900) destroyed. A 2003 wildfire in San Diego County that killed 15 people and destroyed 2,820 structures ranks second, followed by a 2007 fire, also in San Diego County, that burned 1,650 structures.
A firefighter lost his home while battling a wildfire in northern California, said Eric Walters, a spokesman for the Cachagua Fire Protection District.
“I was out fighting the fire on the other end, and then my whole place burned down,” Bob Eaton, a volunteer firefighter with the fire protection district, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “My parent’s house, right below me, it burned down. And my neighbors up on top, their place is burned down.”
Eaton said firefighters’ quick response to the blaze wasn’t enough to save some of the homes. “It just went so damn fast,” he said of the spread of the fire.
California fire officials say another 162 homes were destroyed in the wildfire north of San Francisco.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says Sunday that damage assessment teams have counted 1,050 homes burned in Lake County, many of them in the town of Middletown.
CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant says the teams have completed about 80 percent of damage assessment, focusing largely on homes. They have not determined how many additional structures, such as sheds, barns and other outbuildings, were destroyed.
The fire, which killed at least three people and charred 118 square miles, is 69 percent contained.
Authorities are investigating the death of a man found near the source of a Northern California wildfire as suspicious.
The Monterey County Sheriff’s office said Sunday that firefighters found the man’s body inside a charred vehicle in the burn area on Saturday.
Sheriff’s spokesman John Thornburg says the man’s death is being investigated as a possible suicide.
Cal Fire says the blaze has damaged or destroyed 10 homes and burned 1,086 acres near the community of Jamesburg in Monterey County. It is 30 percent contained.