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Progress Seen in Fight Against Massive California 'King' Wildfire

Although the King Fire east of Sacramento has grown to 145 square miles, more of the blaze has been contained as winds hamper fire-control efforts.

Thousands of firefighters in California have made more progress battling a massive wildfire east of Sacramento, containing more of the King Fire even as dry conditions and erratic winds threatened to swell the blaze, officials said.

“We didn’t see the same activity level we saw last week when the fire made that big run,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Those winds are definitely not helping.”

The King Fire grew from about 137 square miles to just over 145 square miles between Monday and Wednesday morning, although the percent contained by firefights grew from 18 percent to 38 percent. Twelve homes have been destroyed and another 12,000 residences are threatened, and around 2,800 people were ordered to evacuate communities near the blaze, fire officials said. More than 7,600 firefighters are battling the wildfire.

The hot, dry and windy conditions expected Tuesday and Wednesday are similar to those seen last week, when the fire in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada nearly doubled in size. There are four active wildfires in California, although the King Fire is the largest. Firefighters are hopeful that expected rain Wednesday night and Thursday will help ease the conditions which have allowed the King Fire to spread.

On Tuesday some residents of a community on the edge of the fire were allowed to return to the wreckage of their homes, salvaging what remained. The Dykstra family returned to their Pollock Pines home Tuesday to find their dream home burned to the ground. One moment of consolation: Their cat Precious, which has fled as the family rushed from their home as the fire approached, was found frightened but safe.



— Phil Helsel