Fires controlled—but stay alert

Change in weather helped; another change could hurt

Barring another lightning storm in the near future, Butte County residents are breathing easier—literally—now that most of the Butte Lightning Complex fires are under control. Cooler weather and slight breezes over the July 12-13 weekend cleared the air enough that plane crews could drop buckets of water with pinpoint accuracy, enabling ground crews to focus on mop-up and control.

Altogether, a total of 41 fires charred some 54,000 acres in the county. One person, an unidentified Concow resident, was killed, and 30 firefighters suffered injuries. Fifty residences and 10 outbuildings burned down, bringing the countywide total of destroyed dwellings, including those lost in the Humboldt and Ophir fires, to 124.

Total cost of fighting the latest conflagrations: $53.3 million as of Monday, or about $1,000 per acre.