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A Third Of California's Fire Evacuees Still Waiting To Go Home

Debbie Wolfe looks at the antique pitcher that once belonged to her grandmother after finding it in the burned ruins of her home on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli
Debbie Wolfe looks at the antique pitcher that once belonged to her grandmother after finding it in the burned ruins of her home on Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Even as many of the thousands of people forced to evacuate from deadly California wildfires were being allowed to return to their homes, yet another fire has started in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Authorities said 60 people were still missing on Tuesday from the fires that have killed at least 42 people, destroyed more than 6,000 homes and burned through some 200,000 acres of the state.

The latest Cal Fire summary says that the Tubbs Fire affecting Sonoma and Napa counties between the towns of Calistoga and Santa Rosa has been 82 percent contained.

The Nuns Fire between Santa Rosa and the city of Sonoma has been 68 percent contained. The Atlas Fire, the single largest blaze — which has engulfed more than 51,000 acres and caused six fatalities in an area south of Lake Berryessa and northeast of Napa — is 77 percent contained.

Yet another fire in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, that has killed eight people is 60 percent contained, Cal Fire says.

Firefighters gained more control on the massive wildfires that raced through wine country last week, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 100,000 people. About 34,000 remain under evacuation orders and many have yet to find out if their homes are still standing.

"Just over the last 24 hours, we have repopulated 13,956 homes and 36,225 people," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano told reporters on Tuesday. "That's at a pretty brisk pace, you might say, and about as fast as we can do it."

California's licensed psychologists were being asked to volunteer to help those who lost loved ones in the fire or saw their homes destroyed, The Associated Press said.

NPR's David Schaper, reporting from Santa Rosa, says many people evacuated from the fires stayed in hotels or in Red Cross shelters, while others slept in their cars or on couches with relatives and friends.

David spoke with Linda Schiltgen. She and her husband and two girls stayed on a friend's floor. After several days there, Schiltgen expects that in the next day or two, the evacuation order for her neighborhood will be lifted.

"We have a home to go back to. My mom does not," she tells NPR.

Meanwhile, another major fire is raging in Northern California, this time in the Santa Cruz Mountains, just outside of San Jose. Member station KQED reporter Tonya Mosley says the Bear Fire has scorched more than 200 acres, tearing through mostly dense forest area. Some 150 homes have been evacuated as a precaution.

Five firefighters sustained minor injuries battling the latest blaze.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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