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Weed blaze 65 percent contained

WEED — The blaze that ripped through the Northern California city of Weed and torched more than 200 structures Monday is edging toward full containment.

The 375-acre Boles fire is at 65 percent containment as of today. A thousand homes and about 100 commercial buildings remain under threat, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported. Evacuation orders remain in place for the town and Angel Valley, though firefighters are working with utility companies to neutralize hazards in the area so residents can start returning to the charred town.

There is a 40 percent chance of rain showers over the town today, with a high temperature of 69 degrees expected, the National Weather Service reported.

"The rain for us is sort of a double-edged sword," said Boles fire public information officer Koby Johns, adding the cooler temperatures and moisture are a help, but the rain muddies the terrain and brings a chance of lightning strikes and additional fire starts.

"It's sort of a mixed blessing. It's a nicer environment to work in, for sure."

The fire erupted Monday afternoon just east of the town. Fanned by 45 mph winds, the fire sprinted through the city, destroying or damaging homes, two churches, a library, a school and commercial buildings along the way.

An incident management team of 1,112 firefighters remain on scene, assisted by 101 engines, three helicopters, five dozers and eight water tenders. Crews continue to improve containment lines and mop up inside the fire's perimeter. Damage assessment teams are also on scene.

The fire's cause remains under investigation. Anyone with information on how it started is asked to call 1-800-468-4408. A reward of up to $10,000 is offered for information that helps crews determine the start.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com.