Thousands flee as flames race across California

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Thousands flee as flames race across California

Erratic wind and heat gripping a large area of California from San Jose to the Oregon border has been driving the flames.


A wildfire is targeted near Clearlake Oaks, California (Noah Berger/AP)
A wildfire is targeted near Clearlake Oaks, California (Noah Berger/AP)

Wind-driven wildfires have destroyed buildings and threatened hundreds of others as they raced across dry brush in rural northern California.

The Pawnee Fire, which broke out on Saturday near the community of Clearlake Oaks, has destroyed 12 buildings and threatened an additional 600 as it burns across about 12 square miles.

Authorities have 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,” said state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion chief Jonathan Cox.

“This is one of four large fires burning in northern California. It’s a good reminder that fire season is upon us.”

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Wildfires have destroyed buildings in northern California (Noah Berger/AP)

Erratic wind and heat gripping a swathe 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”, said officials.

But firefighters appeared to be making good progress – the Stoll Fire was halfway contained and some evacuees were allowed to return home, authorities said.

A second fire in Tehama County consumed 5.5 square miles, but no buildings were reported burned. The so-called Lane Fire threatened 200 structures and some homes had been evacuated.

More than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the Pawnee Fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment up close.

Matthew Henderson, who was in the area taking photographs, said he saw the fire jump a road at one point, briefly cutting off access to part of Spring Valley until firefighters pushed it back.

Press Association

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