Huge California wildfire breaches vital containment line

There is a new battleground in Northern California's massive Rocky Fire after it crossed a vital containment line late Monday, north of Highway 20, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

Firefighters had a long night on the fire lines trying to beat back flames that crossed what they hoped would be a firm containment. Now, the fire is still just 12 percent contained after burning 62,000 acres and destroying 24 homes.

The Rocky Fire is just one of more than two dozen wildfires in the West, and over 9,000 firefighters in California are battling blazes from the air and the ground.

"There are a lot of unburned fuels north of Highway 20 and a lot of residents as well," state firefighters spokesperson Jay Smith said.

Residents in the areas where the fire crossed the containment line had already been evacuated.

One tactic, controlled burning, involves lighting fires of their own, an attempt to keep the fire on one side of Highway 20 away from houses.

The fire has already scorched 97 square miles. No new evacuations have been ordered despite the fire's latest advance, into areas of heavy vegetation far from several subdivisions of homes.

"This fire has been very unique and actually unprecedented. This fire grew by 22,000 acres in five hours. The computer simulator said it would take about seven days for that to happen," Smith said.

In addition to setting backfires, firefighters are using air tankers and National Guard helicopters to fight the fire from above.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels Monday night also helped firefighters battle the flames.

California wildfire challenging firefighters

A father and son returned to their property after they were forced to evacuate last week. They found only ashes where their house once stood.

"You got to be strong. And I am young. I can start over," the father said.

Meanwhile, more than 6,300 structures are still threatened.

"I don't have a good feeling this time. We left prepared that we may go back and not have a home," evacuee Gayle Christian said.