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Thousands Flee Fires in Dry Rural California

'Wildfire season is upon us'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2018 12:21 AM CDT
In this photo provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Pawnee Fire wildfire burns in the Spring Valley area, northeast of Clearlake Oaks in Lake County, Calif., early...   (Jonathan Cox/California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection via AP)
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(Newser) – Wind-driven wildfires destroyed buildings and threatened hundreds of others as they raced across dry brush in rural northern California over the weekend. The Pawnee Fire, which broke out Saturday near Clearlake Oaks, has destroyed 12 buildings and threatened an additional 600. As of Sunday, there was no containment and it burned across about 12 square miles, the AP reports. Authorities ordered people to evacuate all homes in the Spring Valley area, where about 3,000 people live. "What we're stressing is that people, when they get the evacuation order, they heed it immediately and get out and stay out until it is safe to return," state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox says. "This is one of four large fires burning in Northern California. It's a good reminder that fire season is upon us."

More than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers, and other equipment are battling the Pawnee Fire in a rugged area that makes it difficult to get equipment up close. "It's kind of the worst possible combination," Cox says. Erratic wind and heat gripping a swath of California from San Jose to the Oregon border drove the flames, which were north of the wine country region where devastating wildfires killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last October. Farther north, a fire spanning about three-quarters of a mile in Tehama County destroyed "multiple residential and commercial buildings," Cal Fire says. But firefighters appeared to be making good progress—the Stoll Fire is halfway contained and some evacuees have been allowed to return home, authorities say.

(Read more California wildfires stories.)

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