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California wildfire grows, makes runs overnight

July 3, 2014
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A stubborn wildfire in rural Northern California's Napa County damaged two homes and forced the evacuation those living in 200 others, but so far is not posing a threat to its world famous vineyards.

The Butts Fire in Pope Valley grew to more than 6 1/2 square miles as of Thursday morning, said Alicia Amaro, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It remains 30 percent contained.

The raging blaze has now scorched some 4,300 acres, an additional 500 from the previous day. It damaged nine structures, including two homes and threatens hundreds more, Amaro said Thursday.

The fire made short runs uphill overnight as the steep and rugged terrain forced crews to build containment lines by hand and without the help of bulldozers, Amaro said.

No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire remains unknown. The fire was burning to the north, away from the county's famed vineyards.

"It has not come anywhere close to what we consider Napa Valley wineries," said Cate Conniff, a spokeswoman for the Napa Valley Vintners, a nonprofit trade association. "It is moving in the opposite direction, and it continues to move that way. We're keeping an eye out on it."

Pope Valley is about 20 miles north of Napa Valley.

More than 1,000 firefighters are still attempting to get control on the intensifying blaze after some progress overnight Tuesday, fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. But fire activity increased Wednesday afternoon as temperatures again soared into the 90s and the blaze continued burning northeast.

The fast-moving blaze began Tuesday afternoon in Napa County. Within hours, it covered 600 acres and then spiked to 2,700 acres by late evening as it spread northeast. State firefighters and crews from Napa, Lake and Solano counties spent a second day working in 90-degree weather on Wednesday.

Temperatures were expected to be in the mid- to upper 90s on Thursday. The fire exploded because of dry conditions across the state because of the drought, Berlant said.

Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday that he has secured federal funds to help fire departments absorb some of the cost of fighting the fire.

 
 

 

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