Thousands Who Fled California Wildfire Allowed to Return

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) -
A truck burns on Main Street in the town of Lower Lake, Calif. on Sunday, August 14, 2016. Flames continue to burn out of control in the area. Cal Fire spokeswoman Suzie Blankenship said the fire was creating its own weather pattern and shifted direction Sunday afternoon into populated areas. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson)
A truck burns on Main Street in the town of Lower Lake, Calif. last week. (AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Authorities have lifted all evacuation orders affecting thousands of people, less than a week after a wildfire raged through mountainous terrain in Southern California and consumed hundreds of homes and other buildings.

About 82,000 people were ordered to leave their properties when the fire broke out Tuesday, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. As firefighters advanced on the blaze, evacuation orders were gradually lifted.

Most of those residents are returning to find their homes intact, though not all. A preliminary damage assessment found 105 homes and 216 outbuildings destroyed across the rural, mountainous area where large swaths of land have been blackened.

A prolonged drought has transformed swaths of California into tinderboxes, ready to ignite. A half-dozen other wildfires were burning in the state, including one in central California that destroyed 34 homes and forced the closure of the famed Hearst Castle.

That fire has burned 43 square miles since it began August 13. It remained 35-percent contained. Fire spokeswoman Jaime Garrett said the fire was growing in the opposite direction to the Hearst Castle, a popular tourist attraction that houses a large art collection that belonged to media magnate William Randolph Hearst.

In rural Santa Barbara County, a 33-square mile wildfire that forced the evacuation of two campgrounds was 20-percent contained.

In the southern Sierra Nevada, another blaze feeding on dense timber in Sequoia National Forest forced the evacuation of several tiny hamlets.

In Northern California, fire crews were gaining control Sunday of an arson fire that destroyed 189 homes. Officials said the 6-square mile fire in Lower Lake was 95-percent contained.

A nearly month-long blaze burning near California’s scenic Big Sur is not expected to be fully contained until the end of September. The fire has destroyed 57 homes and charred 133 square miles, Cal Fire said. It is 60-percent contained.