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Valley Fire Now 30 Percent Contained, 70,000 Acres Scorched

LAKE COUNTY (CBS SF) -- Cooler temperatures and higher humidity is helping firefighters battling the deadly Valley Fire in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties.

As of 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, the fire is now 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. The fast-moving fire has scorched 70,000 acres since it started Saturday afternoon.

Fire officials report 585 homes and hundreds of other structures have already been destroyed. Meanwhile, 9,000 structures remain threatened.

Cal Fire reports 2,793 fire personal were battling the blaze as of Wednesday morning. Hundreds of additional crews were brought in overnight. As weather cleared, firefighting aircraft were brought in to support control operations.

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In the latest Fire Situation Report on Periscope, a Cal Fire spokesperson said there weather is helping but "we can't become complacent. This fire has a lot of ability to grow. It only takes a couple of hot spots to jump off the line."

Crews are working to build containment all the way around the perimeter. The fire is about 100 square miles, about twice the size of San Francisco. "The hope is containment will be built before the weather shifts," he said.

All schools in Lake County are closed because of the fire.

The fire has ravaged the towns of Middletown and Cobb. Nearly 600 homes have been destroyed along with other structures, including Harbin Hot Springs, a popular retreat located in the mountains between the two towns. Cal Fire said 9000 more structures are still threatened.


There are road closures on Highway 29. Some evacuated residents were being escorted to their homes so they could get pets, medication and important documents Tuesday.

Cal Fire said it is too soon for everyone to go into the burned areas. "You have to remember there is a lot of infrastructure damage -- downed trees, power lines -- all of those safety issues have to be dealt with before people can come in."

Since Saturday, 13,000 people have been evacuated, some with pets, horses and livestock, many with just the clothes on their backs. Evacuation centers were set up at Kelseyville High School, Napa County Fairgrounds, Highland Senior High and Big Valley Rancheria Gymnasium. Evacuation orders were issued for Butts Canyon Road from Highway 29 to the Napa County Line, including Berryessa Estates, as well as the communities of Twin Lakes, Hidden Valley Lake, Middletown, Aetna Springs, Seigler Canyon and Loch Lommond.

There are many missing, but so far, authorities have confirmed one woman was killed in the blaze. Barbara McWilliams was trapped in her home in Anderson Springs. The 72-year-old retired school teacher suffered from multiple sclerosis and was unable to self-evacuate. By the time rescuers reached her, it was too late.

Four firefighters suffered burn injuries and were transported to UC Davis Medical Center on Saturday afternoon. They were reported in stable condition.

MORE: Complete Wildfire Coverage

EVACUATIONS: Latest Information From CAL FIRE

The Valley Fire started Saturday afternoon around 1:25 p.m. in the vicinity of 8040 High Valley Road near Cobb, in unincorporated Lake County. By Sunday morning the out-of-control blaze had exploded to 40,000 acres, spreading to Napa and Sonoma counties, as well.

The cause remains under investigation.

A separate destructive wildfire burning less than 200 miles away in the Sierra Nevada had destroyed at least 233 homes.

The blaze in Amador and Calaveras Counties has charred more than 71,780 acres and was 45 percent contained on Wednesday morning. It is still threatening another 6,400 structures.

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