Tremendous efforts by firefighters battling through the night, have paid some dividends in Butte County where Cal Fire is reporting the explosive Wall Fire near Oroville now 35 percent contained.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Mary Eldridge said that major concerns remain.
“We’ve got 5,400 structures that are threatened, meaning that they are in the path of the fire," she said. "Of Structures destroyed, our current count is 17, and structures damaged is five.”
Despite the destruction however, there are signs that fire crews are beginning to turn the corner.
“[There are] approximately 4,000 people that have evacuated, but the good news that came out yesterday was limited downgrading of evacuation orders for the areas west of Miner’s Ranch Road from [State] highway 162 to Oro-Bangor Highway,” Eldridge said.
First reported Friday afternoon, the fire has consumed 5,600 acres.
Cal Fire and more than a dozen other agencies have assigned a total of 1,600 firefighters to the blaze. Helicopters and air tankers continue making air drops.
Steve Leach, a Bureau of Land Management meteorologist, said that a strengthening Delta breeze will be a mixed bag for firefighting efforts, with higher humidity and slightly lower temperatures balanced by higher sustained winds. Leach said the major issue in the foothills near Oroville are the same around the state for elevations below 3,500 feet. Problems ironically worsened by this past winter’s drought breaking rains.
“The real problem this year is because of the heavy rain we got during the rainy season, we do have that robust grass and brush crop, and below about 4,000 feet these fuels are very dry now, so they’re above normal, we have above normal fuel loading, with normal July weather, and that does create pretty high fire danger, so we do have an outlook through the summer and until it rains, really for areas below 3,500 to 4,000 feet for above normal fire activity," he said.
The cause of the Wall Fire remains under investigation.