Crews hope expected rain helps contain massive Valley Fire

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. -- The Valley Fire in Lake, Sonoma, and Napa counties grew to 70,000 acres and is 30 percent contained. The fire killed one person and has injured four firefighters, with several people still missing. So far, 585 homes have been destroyed and 7,650 structures are threatened.

DONATIONS: How to help victims of the Valley Fire where you live

Mother nature will play a big role Wednesday for both firefighters and evacuees of the Valley Fire. Showers are expected to continue through the North Bay and the area where the fire is burning through the afternoon.

Calistoga has become more than just a relief center for evacuated residents. All types of tents have sprung up at the Napa County Fairgrounds. There, residents can get food, donated clothes, and medicine. About 1,200 people are camped out at the site. Most are from Middleton, some have lost their homes, and others don't know if their house is still standing. Despite the tragedy, community spirit is high. Many wanting to help are still dropping off donations and showing up to do what they can. Click here to find out how you can help.

However, with the expected rain staying dry is extra challenging for evacuees staying at the Napa County Fairgrounds. "We've been wanting the rain so bad and yet not in this situation," Angela Stanley said.

"It would make a mess out of this place, make a mud hole out of it, not good," Gary Stanley said.

Volunteers who have fed the displaced and helped them find clothes and information suddeny had to deal with this new need. "When I heard they were going to have to deal with rain I just kind of mobilized on Facebook and started asking people to bring tarps, tents and rain jackets, that was my first initial thought was to get these people covered and warm," Maggie Maib said.

Volunteers responded quickly and tarps started showing up. Then, evacuees quickly spread them out over their tents. Some donors even gave pop-up canopies to provide big coverage over the tents. An event company brought one of their huge tents to protect all the donated items that are exposed and this is all a huge relief for these evacuees.

Officials say the Valley Fire started as a vegetation fire at 8040 High Valley Road in Cobb.

Investigators believe they found start of Valley Fire

On Tuesday, PG&E announced that it is donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross for Valley Fire relief efforts. They will also be matching up to $100,000 in employee contributions for a total of $350,000.

Law enforcement officers are stepping up patrols after receiving reports of looting in the burn area. The Lake County sheriff says two suspected looters were arrested on Monday with burned-out safes in their vehicle.

Four firefighters have been injured, one person has died, and several remain missing. Several highway and school closures are still in effect. However, evacuations have been lifted for Clearlake Riviera, Riviera West and Riviera Heights.

It is still too dangerous for many people to return home. And it's not just the flames or the smoke. The Valley Fire destroyed infrastructure and left a tangled mess of power lines and phone lines amid a sea of fallen trees.

The massive infrastructure damage caused by the Valley Fire is almost too great to comprehend. Around every corner it seems there's a downed line or a smoldering pole, with much of it is blocking highways and roadways from Middletown to Cobb and beyond.

PG&E set up a huge camp just north of Middletown that's now 250 people strong. Job one for the crews is restoring the main transmission lines leading into town.

PHOTOS: Fire crews battle massive Valley Fire

"So the first thing that they'll do is reset those poles," Boyles said. "And then they can start looking at restringing the conductor of the line between those poles and the final step down the road after all that's done is re-energize those lines."

In Anderson Springs, a burning tree fell just as the local sheriff and crews from AT&T were coming through to survey damage.

RESOURCES: Valley Fire evacuation centers, school closure information

"It's devastating, very devastating right now," said Ken Andrews with the Lake County Public Works Department. "It's a mess. You have to see it to believe it. I mean, TV shows it. But when you're right there and you smell it and you hear it and see things, it's pretty devastating."

More than 2,700 firefighters from around the state are on the front lines battling this raging fire.

PHOTOS: ABC7 News at the Valley Fire

In the meantime, classes have resumed at several schools on Wednesday. For a full list, click here.

Click here for full coverage on the Valley Fire.

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