Far Northern California fire destroys 30 homes

Associated Press
A bomber drops retardant on a wildfire in Mount Diablo State Park on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 in Contra Costa County, Calif. A wildfire burning outside Mount Diablo State Park has forced dozens of residents and animals to evacuate Monday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters gained the upper hand Tuesday on a wildfire in Northern California that destroyed 30 homes and forced about 600 people out of their homes, fire officials said.

The Clover Fire broke out Monday near the rural community of Happy Valley in Shasta County and was quickly fanned by gusty winds, growing to nearly 11 square miles. However, lighter winds Tuesday allowed firefighters to focus on corralling the blaze.

"The fire is not doing much and that is what we call very good news," California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Mike Witesman said.

Officials said that at its peak, the flames spread at 500 acres an hour.

Some residents were given just minutes to evacuate as the fire jumped roads and engulfed residences, the Record Searchlight of Redding reported (http://bit.ly/1ecnuvu ).

Ty Romero, who lost his home, told the newspaper that he and his uncle quickly loaded a truck and fled as flames approached. They took two dogs but a third was missing.

"It wasn't even 10 minutes," he said. "I know a lot of the houses in the area burned."

Along with the homes, 50 outbuildings were destroyed and another 30 structures, mostly homes, were damaged, Witesman said. Although 300 homes were no longer threatened by the fire, residents of those homes were not allowed back yet because of the danger of downed power lines.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze about 150 miles north of Sacramento. Three of them suffered minor injuries, and a resident was treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire was 40 percent contained. The cause was under investigation.

Gov. Jerry Brown secured a federal grant to help agencies pay for the cost of the Clover Fire.

Elsewhere, more than 2,700 firefighters were still battling the Rim Fire that has burned nearly 400 square miles in and around Yosemite National Park. The cost of the effort has reportedly reached $100 million since it erupted on Aug. 17.

Authorities said the blaze was 80 percent contained after being caused by a hunter's campfire. It has destroyed nearly a dozen homes and almost 100 outbuildings.

Meanwhile, a fire burning in a San Francisco Bay Area wilderness park appeared to be under control.

Evacuation orders were lifted late Tuesday for the remaining 75 of 100 homes that were threatened by the fire in Mount Diablo State Park in Contra Costa County.

The fire was 60 percent contained after burning a little more than 5 square miles.

State fire spokesman Steve Kaufmann said the fire wasn't showing much active behavior.

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