Some Evacuations Called Off in Wragg Fire

Firefighters stunted the growth of a wildfire burning near Northern California's Napa Valley wine country as evacuated residents from some of the 200 threatened homes were allowed to return home Thursday night.

Evacuation orders were called off for some 50 homes, said Amy Head, state fire spokeswoman.

"The threat has diminished pretty substantially in a lot of areas,'' Head said. "We didn't have a lot of growth today, which is good.''

Since it started Wednesday, the blaze has burned 10 1/2 square miles now charred in drought-parched countryside near Lake Berryessa, about a 45-minute drive from Napa Valley.

The most active part of the fire is burning along a mountain range in a remote area several miles from the highway that feeds into the lake park.

Bryan Campbell said he remained hopeful that his brother's ranch was still standing Thursday after the wildfire sped through the countryside, forcing them to evacuate 85 horses.

"We had like 30 to 40 people show up to help, a bunch of people with trucks and trailers,'' he told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Everybody who got there was just a huge, huge help. There were people we didn't even know, they're just awesome.''

Video he posted online showed the flames lighting up a nearby hillside beneath heavy black smoke.

Campbell, his father and brother were among the last to leave the Windgate Training Center on Wednesday night.

"All we can have is a good attitude toward it,'' he said. "As long as the winds don't pick up, we're hoping everything will be fine.''

Winds have died down from Wednesday and temperatures are cooler, hovering around 75 degrees.

The fire was 15 percent contained by Thursday afternoon, but dozens of homes and ranches remained threatened.

The Canyon Creek and Lake Solano campgrounds were also evacuated.

The fire erupted Wednesday afternoon and was initially reported as being caused by a vehicle accident, but authorities said Thursday that the cause was still under investigation.

More than 520 firefighters are battling the flames in rugged, steep, brush-covered terrain that has been difficult to access.

Lake Berryessa is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in California and a short drive east of California's famed Napa Valley wine country, though the wineries remain safe.

"It's pretty far away from the Napa Valley,'' Head said, adding that people are "fine to go into the Napa Valley and do tastings.''

State Route 128 remains closed at Wragg Canyon.

Marcia Ritz, owner of the Spanish Flat Country and Deli in Napa, said she was forced to turn around from a shopping trip when the flames broke out. A commute that's normally 45 minutes took more than three hours.

"There were huge amounts of smoke,'' said Ritz, whose store was not in the evacuation zone.

She worried about the impact the fire would have on tourism.

"We have the resorts up here, and in the summertime we depend on them,'' Ritz said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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