The deadliest and most destructive of the three in the wine country had containment lines around 25 percent of it that serve to prevent fires from burning more land.
Officials said progress was also made against a fire in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties with the help of rain Sunday evening and calmer weather Monday. The 123-square-mile fire was 17 percent surrounded after destroying 330 structures. Some 25,000 structures remained threatened.
“The past couple days we’ve seen significant progress in our firefight on this incident,” said Mark Brunton, operations chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is known as Cal Fire. “The weather’s really cooperating with us.”
Helicopters dropped 200,000 gallons of water on the blaze, he said, calling it “the best day yet.”
In addition to better weather, fire crews along with bulldozers and other equipment were arriving from other states.
But officials warned the danger was far from over and told residents to stay out of evacuated areas. Six people who returned to a restricted area south of San Francisco to check on their properties were surprised by fire and had to be rescued, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
Evacuees tempted to return to check on their homes should think again, fire officials said.
“It is highly dangerous in there still,” Jonathan Cox, a Cal Fire deputy chief, of the blaze north of Santa Cruz. “We have bridges that have failed, old wooden bridges that have failed that may not appear failed to people that they may drive on. It is not safe,” he said.
An estimated 170,000 people are under evacuation orders and tens of thousands of homes remain under threat from fires around the state.
Elinor Slayer fled her home in the redwood-dotted mountain town of Boulder Creek north of Santa Cruz on Tuesday evening along with her four children when they started seeing burned leaves and large pieces of ash.
“Luckily for me, I have a 13-year-old daughter who is very cautious about wildfires. We had bags packed already,” said Slayer, 48. “We hadn’t gotten an evacuation order yet, but my daughter said, ‘It’s time to go.’”
The family is counting their blessings that everyone is safe and hoping their home is, too, Slayer said.