Firefighters Getting Upper Hand Against California Wildfires

Monday, October 16th 2017, 2:58 am
By: News On 6

Napa lifted an emergency evacuation advisory within city limits on Sunday as firefighters battled the deadly wildfires that erupted last week.

Parts of Napa had been under an evacuation advisory, but the city's 80,000 residents were not under orders to leave their homes.

Officials said on social media that residents should remain on alert because emergency vehicles will continue to be on the roads.

With the winds dying down, fire officials said Sunday they were finally getting the upper hand against the wildfires that have devastated California wine country and other parts of the state over the past week. While the danger from the deadliest, most destructive cluster of blazes in California history was far from over, the smoky skies started to clear in some places.

"A week ago this started as a nightmare, and the day we dreamed of has arrived," Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos said.

People were being allowed to return home in areas no longer in harm's way, and the number of those under evacuation orders was down to 75,000 from nearly 100,000 the day before. 

"Conditions have drastically changed from just 24 hours ago, and that is definitely a very good sign. And it's probably a sign we've turned a corner on these fires," said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"We're starting to see fires with containment numbers in the 50 and 60 percent, so we're definitely getting the upper hand on these fires."

Fire crews were able to gain ground because the winds that fanned the flames did not kick up overnight as much as feared. 

The blazes were blamed for at least 40 deaths and destroyed at least 5,700 homes and other structures. 

Many evacuees grew increasingly impatient to go home -- or at least find out whether their homes were spared. Others were reluctant to go back or to look for another place to live.

"Our home is gone, but you know what? My family got out," Janine Marsden told CBS San Francisco. "They got out."

Another resident, Brian Baca, told the station that his home was slightly damaged. 

"We walked outside and the sky was just glowing," he said, recalling his family's escape. "It was completely surreal just."

Nearly 11,000 firefighters were still battling the 15 fires burning across a 100-mile swath of the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.