Firefighters working over the weekend brought the Valley Fire further under control, to 70 percent containment, after it has now burned an area of 75,881 acres (119 square miles) in Lake, Sonoma, and Napa counties and leveled at least 1,050 single-family homes. Meanwhile, a new fire that broke out to our south, in the Tassajara Valley near Monterey and Big Sur and the small town of Jamesburg, has burned 1,086 acres and 10 homes so far. One person has died in the area, according to NBC Bay Area, and occurred near the spot where the fire could have originated. The death appears to have been a suicide, but no further information is available.
Good news for fans of the Tassajara Hot Springs resort: The San Francisco Zen Center reports via Facebook that all is safe, despite evacuating some guests over the weekend. And the fire is now 30 percent contained, and appeared to be moving east and north of Jamesburg.
The resort and monastery is owned by the Zen Center and was last threatened by a major fire in 2008, when fire crews decided to abandon and evacuate the area, which is deep in valley accessible only by a single unpaved road. The efforts by five Zen Buddhist monks to save the place, creating an ersatz sprinkler system across building roofs, inspired a book called Fire Monks.
The Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, now in its 12th day, reached 70,760 acres and burned over 500 hundred homes, and killed two people. It is now 74 percent contained, as the Sacramento Bee reports, and is now ranked seventh among the state's most destructive fires in history.
The Valley Fire is now ranked as the fourth most destructive as damage assessment teams continue to move through the burn area, and the number of destroyed structures is expected to rise. There remain three confirmed deaths from the blaze, with two more people still unaccounted for, as the Chron tells us. Evacuation orders have now been lifted for much of the area and residents are returning to see what they have left.