A firefighter, center, and two onlookers watch a smoldering wildfire from a hilltop, on Sunday, in Oakville, Calif.

Fire crews were starting to gain the upper hand on numerous blazes in northern California that have killed at least 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes, but officials warned that the deadliest wildfires in the state’s history were far from extinguished.

According to NPR.org, with ferocious winds dying down and the fires contained in some areas, about a quarter of the nearly 100,000 people who had been ordered to evacuate have been allowed to return to their homes – or at least what is left of them.

Even so, 75,000 people were still being told to stay away.

“This is my home I’m going to come back without question,” Howard Lasker, 56, who returned Sunday with his daughter to view their torched house in Santa Rosa, told The Associated Press. “I have to rebuild. I want to rebuild.”

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