JACKSON, Calif., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- As of Saturday, the Butte fire, currently raging in Northern California's Amador and Calaveras counties, had destroyed 503 houses.
Fire officials reassessed the fire's damages on Saturday morning, with the blaze now 65 percent contained. Just a day before, the total number of destroyed homes was 250.
Since it ignited on September 9, the fire has scorched more than 70,000 acres. Local, state and regional firefighters have struggled to control the blaze in recent days, while warning people to get out of the way of the fast-moving flames.
During that time, four firefighters were injured and two civilians were killed after declining to leave their homes.
Including in the Butte's path was the JKL Museum of Telephony, in the town of Mountain View, a museum devoted almost entirely to the history of the telephone.
Thousands of residents in the affected Sierra Nevada communities were evacuated over the last week and a half. Some complained of not being warned until the last minute. But in a region filled with remote homesites, delivering evacuation messages is difficult.
A separate blaze, the Valley fire, burning in the counties of Lake, Napa and Sonoma, has claimed three lives and destroyed 585 homes. It's scorched nearly 75,000 acres and is currenlty only 48 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.
Firefighters battling both blazes were assisted by cooler weather and rains over the last week, but weather was expected to turn drier, hotter and windier through the weekend.
"The bottom line: The rain that we received in parts of northern California was nice," Berlant said, "but that rain has gone through."