California’s most catastrophic wildfire may finally be reaching its dying embers.
Aided by two days of drenching rains, fire officials in Butte County report that the Camp Fire is 95 percent contained, and that crews on Friday were putting out hot spots in the mountains east of Paradise as well as laying fire lines to cover the last edge of the once-raging fire.
The Camp Fire has scorched 153,000 acres, destroyed more than 18,000 buildings, most of them residences, and left a death toll of 84.
Cal Fire officials cautioned Friday that the fire fight is not yet finished. The state has set the week of Nov. 30, one week from now, as the expected period it will have achieved full containment.
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“Until we reach 100 percent containment, there will be crews actively working to put out hot spots, strengthen containment lines,” Cal Fire incident spokesman Andrew Freeborn said. “There is always a potential for fire growth if there is still fire there.”
That potential appears, though, to have been substantially reduced, thanks to heavy rains that hit the area on Wednesday and Thursday. The National Weather Service reports that one inch of rain fell on lower elevations in Butte County and up to four inches fell in the mountains at the upper eastern end of the fire fight.
The weather service is maintaining a warning for potential for mudslides and debris flows in the fire area, but as of noon Friday, officials said there were no reports of an significant run-off in the fire zone.
“Four inches is a decent amount, but it happened over a long enough time period, so, so far we haven’t seen any significant mudslides or debris flows over the fire (area), which is a good thing,” meteorologist Hannah Chandler-Cooley said.
Butte County officials said the search for victims continues. More than 500 people have participated for nearly two weeks in that effort.
The fire ignited on Nov. 8 in the mountains near Pulga and quickly spread west, consuming much of the towns of Paradise, Concow and Magalia.
The death toll, 84 so far, is by the far the highest toll for any recorded wild fire in state history.