FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

Solano County

Monticello Fire challenges crews

WINTERS — A rural fire in Northern California raged throughout the night, challenging firefighters Sunday with rising temperatures and the threat of shifting winds, officials said.

State fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said that the so-called Monticello Fire grew in size to 11 square miles, and firefighters had it 30 percent contained in the afternoon. By 9 p.m. crews managed to knock it down to about 10 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. A day earlier, the Yolo County fire had burned 8 square miles.

Firefighters working on the southeast shore of Lake Berryessa on Saturday defended a neighborhood of 40 homes from the flames. Berlant said a potential change in wind could send the flames back in their direction. Evacuation orders were in place for Golden Bear Estates and homes off Highway 128 between Highway 121 and Positas Road.

“It’s going to be much hotter than it has been in the past week,” said Berlant. “Our concern is that the wind starts to shift and the fire comes back around.”

The National Weather Service predicted temperatures in the area would rise to nearly 100 degrees Sunday and Monday.

CalFire said the Monticello Fire, which erupted Friday night near the Monticello Dam, is burning in grassy oak woodland and moving to heavy brush.

“There is a potential for extreme growth,” CalFire reported on its website.

Berlant said firefighters battling the Butts Fire northwest of Lake Berryessa were being reassigned to attack the Monticello Fire. Responders include fire agencies from Yolo, Napa and Solano counties.

Firefighters face the challenge of working in steep, rugged terrain with difficult access in the remote mountain range of Yolo County, according to CalFire.

“Firefighters will be deploying aggressive air and ground strategies,” CalFire reported.

Lake Berryessa, a man-made lake about 30 miles north of Fairfield, is a popular recreation spot that attracts many boaters and campers during the July Fourth weekend.

The Butts Fire off Butts Canyon Road in Pope Valley was 85 percent contained Sunday evening after burning nearly 7 square miles and destroying two homes. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze.

Meanwhile in Southern California, firefighters battling flames near the mountain town of Julian expected to have the fire fully contained today, Berlant said.

Four firefighters were injured, state fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said. The extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately clear, and the cause of the fire in central San Diego County was under investigation.

The blaze broke out Thursday, prompting the mandatory evacuation of 200 homes and forcing the cancellation of the town’s Fourth of July parade and celebration.

State fire officials said they were bracing for more fires over the next couple of days.

“The holiday weekend is in full swing,” Berlant said. “There’s still a potential for more fires if the public is not careful.”

Daily Republic staff contributed to this report.

Staff and wire reports

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