July 12, 2008

Butte County Fire More Than Half Contained

A wildfire in the Sierra foothills in California was more than half contained Saturday after charring almost 50,000 acres 100 miles north of Sacramento.

The hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze near Paradise in Butte County got some welcome help from the weather, the Los Angeles Times reported. Winds and temperatures were down and humidity up.

Officials lifted a mandatory evacuation order for Paradise, where more than 30,000 people live on the banks of the Feather River. Firefighters managed to hold the line at the river, keeping flames out of the town.

A body was found Friday in a burned house in Concow, a small settlement in a remote ravine, the first civilian death this year in the hundreds of wildfires that have hit California.

In Big Sur, where the largest wildfire so far this year burned more than 100,000 acres, officials said the coastal highway, Route 1, was expected to reopen Sunday. The Nepenthe Restaurant was serving both lunch and dinner, although the number of customers was far below normal for summer.

The fire continues to burn in Los Padres National Forest.