Published January 08, 2015
Rugged terrain, shifting winds and hot, dry conditions hampered efforts Sunday to contain a wildfire in Northern California that burned to the edge of a rural neighborhood, officials said.
A firefighter was hospitalized after a bulldozer he was operating in the steep mountains southeast of Lake Berryessa rolled over, state fire spokesman Colin McDonald said. He said he didn't know the extent of the firefighter's injuries.
The three-day-old Monticello Fire burned about 10 square miles. It was only 30 percent contained, and officials said it has "a potential for extreme growth."
Officials said flames were stoked by gusty winds in the remote mountain range of Yolo County and thick, brittle brush that has not burned for at least two decades. The fire began Friday near the Monticello Dam that forms the man-made lake and exploded because of dry conditions caused by California's drought.
McDonald said temperatures in the area reached 102 degrees Sunday.
Shifting winds had threatened to send the flames back in the direction of a hillside neighborhood that firefighters saved Saturday. The threat to the roughly 40 homes in Golden Bear Estates dissipated late Sunday, leading authorities to lift evacuation orders for those who live in the neighborhood.
Jodi Westropp, 43, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she was thankful her neighborhood was spared but understood it may not be over.
"It's a risk here," she said. "It's just so dry."
Firefighters battling another wildfire northwest of Lake Berryessa were sent to attack the Monticello Fire. That blaze was 85 percent contained after burning nearly 7 square miles and destroying two homes. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Lake Berryessa, about 75 miles northeast of San Francisco, is a popular recreation spot that attracts many boaters and campers during the Fourth of July weekend.
In Southern California, a 217-acre wildfire near the mountain town of Julian was fully contained Sunday.
The blaze broke out Thursday, prompting the mandatory evacuation of 200 homes and forcing the cancellation of the central San Diego County town's Fourth of July parade and celebration.