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Calif. Wildfire Evacuees Allowed to Return as Firefighters Control Blaze

Hundreds of people forced from their northern California homes by a raging wildfire were allowed to return Saturday, as firefighters got a handle on the blaze.

But some people returned to nothing.

At least 43 houses have been destroyed by the so-called Rocky Fire in parts of Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties, about 100 miles northwest of Sacramento, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.

The fire, which has burned more than 69,000 acres, was 62 percent contained on Saturday, and all evacuation orders were lifted, according to Cal Fire. Some of the more than 1,200 people who were displaced have not been home since the fire erupted on July 29.

Image: Properties destroyed by the Rocky Fire is seen near Clearake, California
Property destroyed by the Rocky Fire is seen near Clearake, California, on August 5. STEPHEN LAM / Reuters

Nearly 3,000 firefighters have worked to fight the fire, according to Cal Fire. They started to make progress in containing it on Wednesday when temperatures dropped and humidity rose, but Cal Fire estimates it won’t be fully extinguished until the middle of the month.

California is in the fourth year of a historic drought. Dry, hot conditions are fueling wildfires, many of which — especially in the north — have been sparked by lightning. More than 10,000 firefighters were battling 17 major fires in the state Saturday, said Cal Fire spokesman Dan Berlant.

"With the threat of thunderstorms gone and with a return to seasonal weather today, weather conditions will provide firefighters a continued opportunity to gain the upper hand on many of these fires," Berlant said.

Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona have provided assistance to California firefighters during this year's busy fire season. As of Aug. 1 there have been more than 1,200 more fires this year compared to the same period last year, Cal Fire said.