Paradise spared, fears continue |

Paradise spared, fears continue

Firefighters battling an out-of-control wildfire in Butte County foothills caught a break early Friday when strong winds they feared could blow hot embers across fire lines toward thousands of homes did not immediately materialize.

The northeast winds forecast for this morning were expected to be similar to those that caused the Camp Fire to flare up earlier this week and destroy about 50 homes.

The blaze burning near Paradise in the Concow area has forced some 10,000 residents to flee.

Mike Davis of Smartsville has been taking photos of the blaze for the California Department of Forestry the past three weeks and knows the current optimism there could be dashed quickly.

The freelance photographer shot pictures of the fire after it broke out from the June 21 lightning strikes, and “It was the same thing as it is now. It was 85 percent contained, but it could get worse,” Davis said.

“The first fire was an underburn but the second time it burned through the treetops,” Davis said. “The problem is the winds pick up there every night around midnight,” rekindling the blazes.

Firefighters on Thursday had positioned themselves on the eastern edge of the town of Paradise, above the Feather River canyon.

They and a few stubborn homeowners were preparing to protect the Sierra foothills town where a separate wildfire forced thousands of evacuations and destroyed 74 homes last month.

In Concow, firefighters cleared and intentionally burned brush to keep the flames away from houses. Bone-dry trees ignited with loud pops like strings of firecrackers as 30-foot flames lit up a ridge around one rural home protected by an engine crew.

Hundreds of beetles, grasshoppers, lizards and eight-inch rats fled ahead of the blaze.

Animal control officers rounded up dogs, cats, horses and other animals left behind when owners hastily evacuated earlier this week.

Evacuations orders remained in place, but some Concow residents were allowed to check on their homes Thursday.

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