This post will be updated as new developments become available. It was last updated on Oct. 18, 2:05 p.m. There is an updating post of evacuation notices in the area and a list of shelters and school closures.
California fire officials have reported significant progress on containing wildfires that have ravaged parts of Northern California and have killed at least 42 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.
Cal Fire Deputy Chief Bret Gouvea told a news conference Wednesday that firefighters were getting "good containment" around the blazes and have "stopped the forward progress and movement of all these fires."
However, in a news briefing Tuesday afternoon Cal Fire Director Kim Pimlott said that the agency is digging in for the long haul.
“While we’re making great progress there are still portions of the fires that are active,” he told reporters.
Pimlott was also not optimistic that predicted rainfall for Thursday or Friday could end the fires. He noted that fires are springing up in areas close to the coast that are normally wet, such as the fire that erupted overnight in Santa Cruz.
Twenty-three people have died in Sonoma County, eight in Mendocino County, six in Napa County and four in Yuba County.
About 60 people remain unaccounted for in Sonoma and Napa counties as of Tuesday. Authorities say they are conducting targeted searches for victims and the work is slow-going.
Santa Rosa's Sutter Hospital re-opened Tuesday after evacuating nearly 80 patients a week ago within a frantic six hours as one of the wine country wildfires crept closer to the facility.
It was one of two hospitals to evacuate patients on Oct. 9. The other facility was Kaiser Permanente's Santa Rosa Medical Center, which evacuated 130 patients.
After days of gusts that constantly fanned the fires, better weather offered a chance for crews to get the upper hand on Monday, more than a week after the blazes started chewing through the state's celebrated wine country.
"The weather has not been in our favor over the past week in general, but we are still marching forward with our progress," said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for Cal Fire.
Also Monday, a water truck driver died when his vehicle rolled over near one of the fires, which happened shortly before daybreak. Napa County authorities identified the driver as 38-year-old Garret Paiz of Missouri.
Paiz, who had been delivering water to the fire lines, crashed before dawn in Napa County on a road that climbs from vineyards into the mountains. No other details were available about the accident, which was under investigation, said Mike Wilson, a fire spokesman.
The smoky skies started to clear in some places, and thousands of people got the all-clear to return home. About 22,000 people were still under evacuation orders Wednesday, down from a high of 100,000 on Saturday.
"This is my home. I'm going to come back without question," said Howard Lasker, 56, who returned Sunday with his daughter to their torched house in Santa Rosa. "I have to rebuild. I want to rebuild."
Although the weather was still hot and dry, the calmer winds and the possibility of rain later in the week should help crews tamp down the deadliest, most destructive cluster of blazes in California history.
"Any sort of moisture is welcome at this point," said Scott Rowe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "In terms of fire, the weather outlook is looking to be improving."
He predicted a quarter-inch would fall late Thursday in Sonoma and Napa counties.
Hundreds of people remained unaccounted for, although authorities said many of them are probably safe but have not let anyone know.
In hard-hit Sonoma County, Sheriff Rob Giordano said authorities have located 1,560 of the more than 1,700 people once listed as missing. Many of those names were put on the list after people called from out of state to say they could not reach a friend or relative.
Authorities said they will not let people return home until it is safe and utilities are restored. Pacific Gas and Electric Company said it expects to restore power and gas to the area by late Monday.
Many evacuees grew increasingly impatient to go home -- or at least find out whether their homes were still standing. Others were reluctant to go back or to look for another place to live.
Juan Hernandez, who escaped with his family from his apartment Oct. 9 before it burned down, still had his car packed and ready to go in case the fires flared up again and threatened his sister's house, where they have been staying in Santa Rosa.
"Every day we keep hearing sirens at night, alarms," Hernandez said. "We're scared. When you see the fire close to your house, you're scared."
At the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Sunday, evacuees watched the San Francisco 49ers play the Redskins on television, received treatment from a chiropractor and got free haircuts.
Michael Estrada, who owns a barbershop in neighboring Marin County but grew up in one of the Santa Rosa neighborhoods hit hard by the blazes, brought his combs, clippers and scissors and displayed his barbering license in case anyone doubted his credentials.
"I'm not saving lives," he said. "I'm just here to make somebody's day feel better, make them feel normal."
Lois Krier, 86, said it was hard to sleep on a cot in the shelter with people snoring and dogs barking through the night.
She and her husband, William Krier, 89, were eager to get home, but after being evacuated for a second time in a week Saturday, they didn't want to risk having to leave again.
"We're cautious," she said. "We want to be safe."
Nearly 11,000 firefighters were still battling 15 fires burning across a 100-mile swath of the state. The blazes have destroyed at least 6,000 homes and other structures.
Those who were allowed back into gutted neighborhoods returned to assess the damage and perhaps see if anything was salvageable.
Jack Daniels recently completed a yearlong remodel of his Napa house near the Silverado Country Club and watched it go up in flames last week as he, his wife, 7-year-old grandson and two pugs backed out of the driveway.
His neighbors, Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara, 98, were the oldest victims identified so far in the wildfires.
Daniels, 74, a wine importer and exporter, said he lost everything left behind, including his wife's jewelry and 3,000 bottles of wine in his cellar.
"It's heartbreaking," the 74-year-old said. "This was going to be our last house. I guess we've got one more move. But we're fortunate. We got away. Most things can be replaced. The bank didn't burn down."
Melley reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer in Santa Rosa and Janie Har and Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.
Below: A sortable list of the 44 people identified as having died as a result of the October fires in Northern California . To access links, right click (Windows) or control click (Mac OS X):