County Fire grows to 44,700 acres, 3% contained

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A wildfire burning across three counties in Northern California grew overnight on Sunday to 44,700 acres, CalFire reported Monday morning, and had some hope as the triple-digit heat from the weekend should be cooling off.

As of Monday, the County Fire was 3 percent contained. The air was thick with smoke on Sunday, prompting a Spare the Air Alert for places as far away as the Bay Area. The alert was canceled for Monday. 

The fire, which actually extended through Yolo, Napa and Lake counties, started Saturday afternoon near Lake Berryessa and spread quickly.

The County Fire is now the  biggest fire in California so far this year with 1200 plus fire fighters doing what they can in terrible terrain. The bigger worry, is the Lake Berryessa area where there are plenty of structures that could be at risk on both sides of the lake.  

"As the fire progresses down into Napa County and down towards Lake Berryessa, certainly that's gonna be a priority to get that wrapped on that west side of the fire as well as on the south side," said Cal Fire Division Chief Chris Anthony. 

By Sunday, it was already bigger than the Pawnee Fire.  By Monday that fire, which started on June 23, was 75 percent, Cal Fire said. So far, it has burned 14,000 acres. 

Natalie and Paul Klempau own the Taber Ranch Vineyard and Event Center which is under a voluntary evacuation order because of the County Fire. They both were unsettled by the sight of a large plume of smoke coming over the ridge.

“This is our livelihood and we put our blood, sweat and tears into this place,” Paul Klempau said. “So we don’t want to see it go up in flames.”