Cal Fire updates indicate that the Butte fire remains at 70,760 acres. But the raging flames have now destroyed 511 homes, 303 outbuildings, and 47 structures. The fire has been 67 percent contained.
Cal Fire Public Information officer Josh Rubinstein gave further information on the fire suppression efforts, in a statement reported by myMotherLode.com.
“The fire behavior remains minimal, but they [fire personnel] are working diligently to expedite re-population. We want to extinguish the fire, make the area safe so people can return home…resume a normal lifestyle, if you will, or start establishing a foundation so they can begin rebuilding their lives.”
On Friday, fire officials had counted 365 homes burned. By Saturday, that total had climbed beyond 500 homes to the 511 mark. The Butte fire has destroyed dozens of houses in Mountain Ranch, a historic former mining town of about 1,600 people that was among the hardest hit by the blaze.
The deadly fire may have been started by a power line coming into contact with a tree, according to Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which said it is cooperating with a Cal Fire investigation. PG&E official Barry Anderson alluded to that possibility in the San Francisco Chronicle.
“While we don’t have all the facts yet, a live tree may have contacted a PG&E line in the vicinity of the ignition point. We are cooperating fully with Cal Fire in an investigation of whether this could have been a source of ignition for the Butte Fire. We are reviewing our inspection and patrol data for 2014 and 2015 for the area near this tree.”
A separate blaze in Lake County, about 170 miles northwest, has killed three people, and destroyed over 500 homes and burned hundreds of other structures, per NBC News. The Lake County fire tore through 62 square miles in 12 hours, causing thousands of residents to flee after it ignited. About 19,000 people were ordered to evacuate. The blaze has charred 116 square miles and was 48 percent contained, as of Saturday.
Many survivors of the Lake County fire said they never got an official evacuation notice when the fire was at its peak a week ago.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round addressed those accusations in a statement from CBS News.
“You may get that notice, or you may not, depending on how fast that fire is moving. If you can see the fire, you need to be going.”
Tragically, most of the victims from the blazes are senior citizens who couldn’t escape. The others are people who make the mistake of thinking they can stay behind and fight the deadly flames with a garden hose.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]