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Destroying 162 More Homes, Fire Ranks As Fourth Worst In California History

A burnt pelican statue stands beside a fire destroyed house after the Valley Fire swept through the town of Middletown, California, earlier this week.

A wild fire burning in Northern California has destroyed 162 more homes, making it the fourth worst fire in California history.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fire was 69 percent contained but it was still threatening thousands of other structures.

The AP reports:

"The tally brought the total number of homes destroyed in two wildfires burning in Northern California the past two weeks to nearly 1,600, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. Those fires killed five people, and on Sunday authorities announced that a body was found near the source of a new wildfire in Monterey County that destroyed or damaged 10 homes.

"Firefighters found the man's body inside a charred vehicle after the fire began Saturday near the community of Jamesburg. Investigators were investigating his death as a possible suicide, Monterey County Sheriff's spokesman John Thornburg said.

"Farther north, two massive wildfires continue to threaten thousands more homes. Damage-assessment teams have counted 1,050 homes burned in Lake County, many of them in the town of Middletown, CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said."

Slowly some of the evacuation orders have been lifted.

KCRA-TV reports that some residents are returning home to nothing. The station reports:

"'Everything was destroyed,' said 16-year-old Annie Curtis, an evacuee from Mountain Ranch. 'My house, the barn, the woodshed, three cars, some tractors, a whole backhoe, the tires melted off,' she said.

But there is help on the way for victims of the Butte Fire in Mountain Ranch, and in Jackson, where the Central Church of Christ has been taking in food, water and cleaning supplies to provide relief to those in need. ... People from near and far have been dropping off supplies to offer relief. Wendy Sula drove up from Danville today.

"'We wanted to help,' she told KCRA 3 as her eyes welled up with tears. 'And we see what's happened on the news and our family's been affected and what started as a small plea on Facebook for my cousins that have lost three homes turned into something much bigger than me.'"

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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