Wildfire sweeps across northern Bay Area, claiming more than 44,000 acres

Sugarloaf Fire

At least 2,500 people have been told to evacuate as the so-called County Fire continues to spread, said Anthony Brown, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Along the northern front, the area placed under mandatory evacuation late Tuesday was bounded by Highway 16 on the east, Berryesssa-Knoxville Road on the west, Old County Road on the north and County Road 53 on the south end.

The fire was first reported around 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Stragglers trying to enjoy the area, despite an evacuation order, were driven out by the smoke and CalFire's admonishments to leave.

This NASA image shows the location of the County Fire, as well as smoke drifting southwest over the Bay Area, and the city of San Francisco.Smoke from the County Fire hangs over Napa and Yolo counties as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze, which is now only at 3% containment.

Crews continued to take aggressive action on Monday to set up perimeter control by creating a controlled burn while up against shifting winds.

"Keeping ahead of the winds, and knowing what the winds are going to do and where, and with the terrain mixed in, is a challenge", Childers said.

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Joergensen, who reported the wildfire, said it started about 20 feet (6 metres) away from the fire pit Wednesday and he tried to put it out, according to an arrest affidavit.

"It burned very actively overnight (Monday), was still burning in the morning and is still burning now", said Cal Fire Capt. Jordan Motta.

The massive blaze was choking skies with ash and smoke, prompting some officials to cancel Fourth of July fireworks shows and urge people to stay indoors to protect themselves from the unhealthy air.

"A lot of friends and family were texting today and saying they were having some PTSD", said Savannah Kirtlink, who evacuated her Napa home during the blazes in December. Just over the last 24 hours, the fire has grown by over 10,000 acres due to extreme weather conditions and dry ground.

"The weather is better than what we had over the weekend".

So far this year, wildfires have burned 4,200 square miles in the United States, according to the fire center. "But it's still hampering our efforts and it's an area of concern", he said.

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