Valley fire in Lake County now 97 percent contained

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The Valley fire was 97 percent contained Sunday night as Lake County residents continued the difficult task of recovery and rebuilding.

Cal Fire reported that firefighters spent the day mopping up hot spots and improving containment lines. Crews were also working to restore landscaping that was altered during initial firefighting efforts in the third most destructive fire in the state’s history.

Students in the Middletown Unified School District will head back to class Monday, more than two weeks after the fire swept through the small community.

Officials have finished new assessments of the structures destroyed by the blaze, finding that 1,958 buildings were destroyed, including 1,280 homes, 27 multifamily structures, 66 commercial properties and 585 other structures such as outbuildings and sheds. Four people died in the blaze that began on Sept. 12 and has burned 76,067 acres.

As part of the recovery effort, the Lake County Disaster Recovery Center will be open in Middletown Monday from noon to 6 p.m. to help survivors with debris removal, housing, replacing vital records and other issues. Regular hours will begin Tuesday.

A free lunch will be provided to residents at noon outside the Middletown center by five food trucks, according to the American Red Cross. The trucks will be able to serve up to 1,000 residents.

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