More than 1400 homes destroyed in California fires

  • 21/09/2015

More than 1400 homes have been destroyed in two of the biggest wildfires currently burning in California, officials have confirmed, making them among the worst ever in the state.

The death toll rose to six after a person was killed in a new fire south of Monterrey.

Authorities began shifting to damage assessment on Sunday for the Valley and Butte fires, which have each burned more than 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares) as they were approximately half and 70 percent contained, respectively.

Mandatory evacuations for the Butte fire, burning east of Sacramento, were lifted on Sunday, as were evacuations for some areas affected by the Valley fire, north of Napa Valley's wine country.

The damage assessments gave long-awaited answers to some of the thousands of displaced residents wondering whether they would have homes to return to.

But ten large fires - including two new ones - remained active in the state on Sunday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), which said 10,500 firefighters were currently deployed.

One resident was killed in a new fire that sprang up on Saturday afternoon south of Monterey. Ten homes have been destroyed or damaged so far by that blaze, which was only 10 percent contained, CalFire said.

Three residents have been killed and four firefighters injured in the Valley fire, which began last Saturday.

And another two civilians were killed in the Butte fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, but residents were being allowed to gradually return to their homes on Sunday.