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Calif. wildfire claims one life as crews bring containment to 50 percent

Max Whittaker / Reuters

Redding Fire Department firefighter Chris Peters searches for hot spots on the Clover Fire in Happy Valley, California on Wednesday.

California authorities Tuesday discovered a man's body inside the perimeter of a raging wildfire, officials said — the first confirmed fatality since the wind-whipped Clover Fire sparked Monday in the northern community of Shasta County, forcing evacuations and threatening some 300 structures.

The remains of Brian Stanley Henry, 56, were discovered Tuesday evening near Coal Pit Road inside the blazing fire perimeter, according to a press release from Lt. Mark Lillibridge of the Shasta County Sheriff's Office

The cause of death was not immediately known Wednesday but remains under investigation, said CalFire spokeswoman Lori Mathiesen. Henry's next of kin have been notified, she said.

The Clover Fire, which broke out around midday Monday near Clear Creek Road in the community of Happy Valley, had scorched nearly 8,000 acres and destroyed at least 80 structures by Wednesday afternoon, according to CalFire incident information.

At least four people have been injured in the fire, according to the incident information report.

Firefighters brought containment up to 40 percent Wednesday, even though the blaze grew some 250 acres overnight. Authorities don’t expect full containment until Sunday.

Emergency crews beating back the flames were expected to get a boost from milder weather conditions Wednesday, as lighter winds and higher humidity allowed firefighters to get a tighter grip on the blaze.

Upwards of 1,000 fire personnel were battling the blaze Wednesday, according to the incident report — with 146 engines, five airtankers, and seven helicopters dispatched to the inferno. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.