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Crews work to bring Butts Canyon blaze under control (w/video)

  • A sign, melted in the intense heat of the Butts Fire in Butts Canyon, gives arrows for Snell Valley Road and Berryessa Estates, Wednesday July 2, 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Evacuation orders have been lifted and firefighters are nearly halfway to containing the fire that has scorched more than 4,000 acres in Napa and Lake counties, Cal Fire officials said in a statement released Thursday evening.

Officials announced around 8 p.m. the blaze was 45 percent contained and that evacuation orders were lifted. Earlier in the day, residents of 180 households at Berryessa Estates, evacuated Tuesday, were allowed to return home.

So were residents along a portion of Butts Canyon Road. Lake County residents living on Butts Canyon Road from the Lake County line to Langtry Estates still were advised to evacuate, but the order was not mandatory. An evacuation center remained active at Middletown High School.

Butts Fire

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The number of structures threatened dropped from 380 to 180 as the blaze moved northeast, further into a remote area of Lake County toward Snell Peak. Two homes and seven outbuildings have been destroyed so far, unchanged from Wednesday.

Cal Fire reported two injuries Thursday evening, but provided no additional information.

Cool and humid nighttime weather again helped slow the spread of the fire Wednesday night, officials said. The National Weather Service said temperatures increased about 5 degrees Thursday, and the weekend was expected to remain warm. But meteorologists said they were not forecasting significant wind.

“That's really the main concern,” said Duane Dykema of the Weather Service. “There is not much wind expected. That's a plus because it will offset the increased danger from the warming weather.”

Firefighters were continuing to build more fire lines in the mountainous area, but doing so was difficult because of the rugged terrain, Cal Fire officials said. Bulldozers can't make it into some of the areas, so the agency is relying on hand crews to clear vegetation.

More than 1,700 firefighters from numerous agencies were assigned to the blaze, as well as 60 fire crews.

A portion of Butts Canyon Road in Lake County remained closed Thursday.

Staff Writer Elizabeth M. Cosin contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205 or jamie.hansen@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jamiehansen.

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