Evacuees return home as wildfires across West calm down

Published 10:09 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Nearly all evacuation orders have been called off for three major fires across California as dozens of wildfires throughout the West were coming under control.

A fire near the Northern California town of Oroville, which drove 4,000 people from their homes was 70 percent contained late Wednesday, allowing all residents there to return. Many of the same people had been forced to flee this spring from the possibility of major flooding from a damaged dam spillway. The blaze, which broke out Friday, has destroyed 41 homes and damaged three.

To the south in Santa Barbara County, nearly all of the 3,500 people driven from homes by two large wildfires were able to return. A 45-square-mile fire was 70 percent contained, allowing for all evacuations to be canceled. A few dozen homes remained under evacuation orders for the second fire in the area, burning near Lake Cachuma.

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Crews were making similar progress against dozens of wildfires across the U.S. West.

In Nevada, more than 1,500 firefighters continued to battle a half-dozen large wildfires, including several fueled by grass growth from an unusually wet winter.

One blaze forced the evacuation of a gold mine north of Interstate 80 in the north-central part of the state, and another was threatening sage grouse and wild horse habitat near U.S. Highway 50 about 100 miles east of Reno.

Dozens of wildfires were burning across Arizona, but the arrival of monsoon rains has significantly reduced the threat they posed and most were coming under control.