As firefighters began to make significant progress on two of the 12 deadly wildfires raging in drought-stricken areas of California, emergency crews on Tuesday had to also contend with a small earthquake near one of the wildfires and flooding in Los Angeles.
At least four firefighters have been injured trying to extinguish the wildfires and one woman has died in her home. The wildfires are being attacked by an estimated 11,000 firefighters.
More than 6,000 structures remain threatened with evacuations by a fire in the Gold Rush country of the Sierra Nevada foothills. That blaze, now more than one-third contained, has singed nearly 112 miles so far.
The other fire, sparked by lightning on July 31, is 40 percent contained. Though it’s burned 217 square miles, the path of that fire has at least begun to move away from the ancient Sierra Nevada Giant Sequoia trees. Some of the Sequoias are 3,000 years old.
A third fire burning about 100 miles north of San Francisco is 15 percent contained, but has grown to 104 square miles. The blaze has affected residents in rural Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties. A small, 3.2-magnitude earthquake struck in Lake County early Tuesday morning.
Some Lake County evacuees were being allowed to return home on Tuesday for 15-minute visits to take stock of what was left, KTVU reported.
“I saw all the houses and they were just devastated, gone – there was nothing here,” volunteer Lake County firefighter Don Lopez told KTVU. “And I thought, ‘My house is gone,’ and I was crying. I didn’t know what to do. I was numb.”
Two of the fires have caused 23,000 people to be displaced from their homes. The wildfires have destroyed 720 homes and hundreds of other structures, such as businesses, barns, outbuildings and infrastructure.
While a lack of rain gave rise to the wildfires in one part of California, a downpour in Los Angeles caused flooding of the Los Angeles River. Several people had to be rescued from the waters, an assisted-living center was evacuated after it flooded and accidents snarled the freeways, KTLA reported.
Los Angeles received 1.70 inches of rain before 7:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reported. Santa Monica had 1.75 inches and Alhambra 1.82 inches. The National Weather Service said parts of Southern California were seeing up to a third of an inch of rain every hour.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.