Winds make fighting Jerusalem Fire tough despite progress

- While crews make progress on containment of the Jerusalem Fire overnight, wind gusts of up to 30 mph kept firefighters busy Thursday afternoon.

"Winds have shifted," Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett explained. "They're picking up and we're expecting gusts up to 30 miles per hour in the area."

By 2 p.m., the winds turns, transforming embers into a blow torch. Firefighter strike teams staged along Morgan Valley Road were ready with hoses and back hoes.

"Just going to let it burn," explained a firefighter getting ready to put a hose on the approaching flames. "We've got to protect the mile markers up the road."

Wednesday night firefighters used cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels to their advantage to make progress on the fire. On Thursday morning it was 33 percent contained and had burned 23,500 acres.

"We've seen individual small spots (of fire) here and there, but not a fire front," Bennett said watching helicopters fill up with water to make strategic drops on the spot fires. "The helicopters are a tremendous resource coming in with pinpoint accuracy on these areas that have small spots."

The Jerusalem Fire was one of 14 wildfires in California being fought by about 12,000 firefighters, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

About 2,000 firefighters took a stand against the flames -- most reassigned from the first fire that destroyed 43 homes and charred 109 square miles.

The latest fire began Sunday in dry timber and brush several miles from the community of Lower Lake. It spread into Napa County, but no vineyards were threatened in the famous wine-growing region.

Parts of the Jerusalem Fire's northern flank have merged with the Rocky Fire burn area. Cal Fire is projecting containment Monday 17th. The cause of both the Jerusalem and Rocky Fires is under investigation.

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