SACRAMENTO — Firefighters battling the largest fire in Northern California contained it Thursday morning, while residents living near another fire were allowed to return to their homes as that blaze also wound down by evening, officials said.
About 50 miles north of Susanville, the Observation fire claimed 67,700 acres, said Jeff Fontana, a spokesman for the Susanville Interagency Fire Center. The more than 900 firefighters and personnel involved in the $2.7 million effort contained it Thursday morning.
Crews were being demobilized and sent home, and Gov. Gray Davis hailed them and the other “brave men and women” fighting that and three other fires.
Meanwhile, all lanes of Interstate 80 that had been closed by the fire near Emigrant Gap were open Thursday.
That fire had shut down parts of that major freeway for three straight days.
A fire about 13 miles east of the town of Likely in Lassen County had claimed 33,101 acres as of Thursday evening. Firefighters continued working through sweltering conditions, although winds had died down, said Hilary Ford, a Modoc National Forest information officer.
The Blue fire, which was 45 percent contained as of Thursday, had posed a threat to Eagleville, a small community of about 100 people and Jess Valley, with its 50 residents, but then headed in a different direction, said Wayne Chandler, a fire information officer for the Modoc National Forest.
More than 1,576 firefighters and personnel, 47 fire engines, and eight helicopters responded to the Blue fire. Full containment was expected Wednesday. The cost of the fire was estimated at $1.2 million.
Firefighters were clearing foliage Thursday after getting ahead of a blaze in the Mendocino National Forest that had grown to 14,705 acres.
Winds remained calm, which is “good news,” said Rick Barton, fire spokesman.
Barton said indirect line construction was completed and firefighters had begun a burn out operation Thursday evening.
The fire has destroyed 10 homes and 16 outbuildings and 11 firefighters have received minor injuries since the blaze began Aug. 8 near Stonyford in Colusa County.
More than 1,583 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, state forestry department and local fire departments were fighting the Trough blaze, which was 64 percent contained as of Thursday evening.
Full containment was expected Monday. The cost of the fire was estimated at more than $8.4 million.
Some residents were allowed to return to their cabins after 6 p.m. Thursday after being evacuated because of a fire in the steep forest near a remote spot near Emigrant Gap, about 70 miles northeast of Sacramento.
The fire had claimed 2,462 acres as of that evening.
Residents in the Yuba Gap area and Emigrant Gap area, as well as about 150 campers in nearby campgrounds, had been evacuated earlier in the week.
More than 1,155 firefighters had contained 90 percent of the blaze by Thursday evening, with full containment projected by 6 p.m. Friday, said Andy Williams, a Tahoe National Forest information officer.
Williams said crews there were winding down and either being sent home or to assist at other fires.
Three firefighters suffered heat stress and one suffered a minor eye injury, officials said.
Using aircraft to drop water, firefighters kept the fire from spreading north of the freeway, the main highway between Northern California and states to the east.
Officials said the fire was reported Sunday afternoon by a lookout on Saddleback Mountain near Downieville, about 25 miles north of the fire. Its cause is still under investigation.
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