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California wildfires destroy another 162 homes; suspicious death investigated

By Andrew V. Pestano
California wildfires destroy another 162 homes; suspicious death investigated
Cal Fire Capt. Justin Galvan surveys his home destroyed by the Valley Fire in Middletown, Calif., on Sept. 15. At least 162 more homes have been destroyed by the wildfires in California as officials investigated a suspicious death by fire, authorities announced Sunday. Photo by Mathew Sumner/UPI | License Photo

SACRAMENTO, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- At least 162 more homes have been destroyed by wildfires in California as officials investigated a suspicious death by fire.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection -- known as Cal Fire -- was working Monday to contain four fires called the Valley Fire, the Laureles Fire, the Tassajara Fire and the Butte Fire. Overall, there were nearly 10,500 firefighters working with Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service to battle 10 fires throughout California, Cal Fire said in a statement.

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The Valley Fire, affecting Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, was 69 percent contained after burning 75,711 acres. The fire killed at least three people, injured four firefighters and destroyed 1,050 structures.

The Laureles Fire was a smaller fire, about 100 acres, affecting Monterey County near the Laureles Grade Road and California State Route 68.

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The Tassajara Fire, about 2 miles north of the town of Jamesburg in Monterey County, grew to 1,086 acres and was about 30 percent contained. At least one person was killed and at least 10 buildings were damaged or destroyed.

The Butte Fire, east of Jackson, affecting Amador and Calaveras counties, burned 70,760 acres and was about 70 percent contained. The fire killed two people, and destroyed 454 homes and 356 outbuildings. Cal Fire estimated the fire will be completely contained on Oct. 1

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The total number of Northern California structures destroyed by wildfire in the past two weeks was more than 1,600.

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Meanwhile, the Monterey County Sheriff's office was investigating the death of an unidentified man after his body was found on Saturday within a scorched vehicle inside of a burn area. The death was being investigated as a potential suicide.

The U.S. Forest Service is also battling a number of blazes. The Rough Fire, affecting Fresno County's Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, burned 141,000 acres and is about 68 percent contained. The River Complex Fire affecting the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has burned 7,509 acres and is about 55 percent contained.

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