Napa County blaze threatens 380 homes, grows to 3,200 acres

07/02/2014 7:08 AM

07/03/2014 12:09 AM

One thousand firefighters battled a 3,200-acre fire that threatens hundreds of homes in Napa County all afternoon Tuesday and into the night, and they’re not done yet.

The Butts Fire, which started just off Butts Canyon Road about 15 miles west of Lake Berryessa, was 30 percent contained at 6:40 a.m. Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire public information officer, said nighttime humidity and cooler temperatures helped firefighters get the blaze under control and establish containment lines. As the sun comes up and humidity decreases, the Butts Fire could start growing again.

“Today we are prepared for the fire to pick back up,” Berlant said of the largest fire California has seen in about a month.

Berlant said 380 homes are threatened. Evacuation orders are in place for 200 homes in the Butts Canyon Road and the Berryessa Estates area. Berlant said it is too early to tell whether additional areas will be evacuated.

The fire was not threatening any major vineyards on Wednesday.

The fire began around noon Tuesday. It spread unusually quickly due to extraordinarily dry conditions. Five structures were destroyed in the blaze Tuesday evening, one of which may have been a home.

Investigators are still working to identify the fire’s cause. No injuries have been reported.

On Wednesday morning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) granted California a Fire Management Assistance Declaration. The declaration entitles the state to be reimbursed for 75 percent of the cost of fighting Butts Fire.

Over the last fiscal year, Berlant said, the state spent $242 million fighting fires. The federal reimbursement program will allow the state to recoup part of that expense.

Berlant said the fire should serve as a warning to Californians ahead of the July 4th weekend: after years of drought, a few sparks can quickly become a roaring inferno.

Elsewhere in California, firefighters were surrounding a blaze in Shasta-Trinity National Forest that forced the evacuation of about 15 homes, the Associated Press reported.

Andrea Capps, a spokeswoman for the forest, said that fire has burned through 35 acres since it started on Tuesday and was 70 percent contained.

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