Firefighters made significant progress Saturday on the Applegate fire, but officials stressed that they’re not out of the woods yet.
By nightfall Saturday night, officials of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said firefighting teams continued to confine the four-day-old blaze to 459 acres, and containment jumped to 67 percent.
Those numbers were part of a day of progress, even amid hot and windy conditions.
Most significant, evacuation orders were lifted Saturday afternoon for several Placer County communities near the Applegate fire. The areas include roads east of Interstate 80 at Applegate Road and south to Hidden Meadow Way.
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Cal Fire officials said fire crews continue to build containment lines and improve existing lines. They said “mop-up work” within the fire perimeter will continue over the next few days, and they asked residents returning to their homes to drive carefully as firefighters continue to work in various areas in and around the blaze.
Scott McLean, a battalion chief with Cal Fire, said Saturday afternoon that firefighters were making good progress against the fire but expressed concern that the fire was going to be “wind-tested.” However, sometimes gusty winds failed to produce a breakout.
Despite Saturday’s progress, fire officials remained cautious about Sunday’s prospects as the National Weather Service is calling for highs in the mid-80s and winds occasionally gusting to more than 20 mph. Cal Fire officials also noted Saturday night that 400 homes are still threatened by the fire.
More than 1,100 firefighters remain assigned to the blaze that so far has destroyed six homes and four outbuildings.
Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.