Blaze burns 5 homes, 3 fire vehicles in Mendocino County

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The wildfire that started Saturday afternoon in the Mendocino County community of Redwood Valley had burned 417 acres, 10 structures, including five homes, and three Cal Fire vehicles by Sunday evening, fire and sheriff’s officials said.

The Black fire was 50 percent contained as of Sunday evening, Cal Fire said, with 10 structures threatened. Authorities on Saturday ordered the evacuation of dozens of homes threatened by flames.

However, some signs of progress were apparent by early Sunday afternoon: Evacuation orders had been lifted on Horseshoe Circle, Shale Road, Black Bart Trail, with the exception of a spur road in the 7200 block, and a private road on Guntly Ranch, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

With those orders lifted, there was temporarily no demand for the emergency shelter that had been set up at Eagle Peak Middle School in Redwood Valley, said Tami Bartolomei, Office of Emergency Services coordinator for Mendocino County.

“It seems they’re getting some containment,” she said.

Mandatory evacuations were still underway for homes near Hells Delight Canyon Road.

And power had been restored to a just under 100 households in the Redwood Valley/Potter Valley area after they lost electricity Saturday evening.

The blaze in the hilly oak woodlands north of Highway 20, near Black Bart Trail, was first reported about 4 p.m. Saturday.

Strong winds blew it east toward Potter Valley Road, fire officials said. Dry conditions worsened the fire, Cal Fire spokeswoman Julie Cooley said, adding that the blaze is burning in a combination of dry grass, brush and oak woodlands.

However, she said, the terrain was not as rugged and challenging as it was last month when firefighters battled a series of fires known as the Lightning Lodge Complex near Laytonville in Mendocino County that burned more than 12,000 acres.

She said she believed firefighters had been successful in building fire lines to help contain the fire.

At some point Saturday, the fire burned two fire trucks and a Cal Fire pickup, Bartolomei said. Nobody was injured.

Seven structures had also been burned by Sunday afternoon, including some homes, Bartolomei said.

She did not know how many of the structures were homes, but said that local volunteer groups would be working with the families who lost their homes in the days ahead to gather needed donations and other types of aid.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, Cooley said.

Fighting the fire were 458 people, 40 engines, 15 ground crews, eight bulldozers, six air tankers, two helicopters and five water tenders.

You can reach Staff Writer Jamie Hansen at 521-5205 or jamie.hansen@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jamiehansen.

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