Thompson Fire In Northern California Slowing As Some Residents Will Be Allowed To Return

A destructive wildfire that engulfed buildings and forced 29,000 people to evacuate the area near Oroville in Butte County, California, is showing signs of slowing, officials said.

Fire crews battled flames overnight, and on Thursday morning, the spread of the blaze, named the Thompson fire, remained relatively stable, at around 3,500 acres burned. The fierce winds that initially drove the fire weakened through the night, and officials said they planned to repopulate some areas today that were previously under evacuation orders.

On Wednesday, parts of four zones were downgraded from evacuation orders to evacuation warnings, said Rick Carhart, a spokesman for Cal Fire, giving some residents the confidence to return home. Some areas on the south side of the fire, including near the city of Oroville, had been downgraded, and officials said they were currently evaluating more zones.

So far, four firefighters have been injured and four structures destroyed as a result of the blaze, according to Cal Fire’s incident report. The fire has also consumed homes and vehicles, based on news coverage.

“Overall, things are looking pretty good,” said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for Cal Fire. “The fire is not doing what it was doing on the first day. It’s not burning with a rapid rate of spread. It’s pretty much staying in the footprint that it’s in.”

Mr. Colburn added that while officials were feeling “more confident” about the slowing spread of the fire and the ability of firefighters to contain it, there was still a lot of work to do, and the situation could change. As of Thursday morning, the fire was 7 percent contained.

Much of California is under an excessive heat warning. Temperatures in Oroville on Thursday are expected to reach 110 degrees, with even hotter temperatures expected in the coming days. The rising heat, coupled with low humidity, could contribute to increased fire activity, officials said. On Wednesday, two smaller fires ignited within a few miles of the blaze near Oroville, but were quickly contained.

Butte County has been the scene of a number of destructive fires in recent years, including the Camp fire, in 2018, one of the deadliest wildfires in American history. It killed 85 people and almost completely destroyed the town of Paradise, about 20 miles north of Oroville.

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