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Evacuations ordered as winds fuel Northern California fires

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A firefighter scrambles to stop the Pawnee fire as it spots across Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif., today.

GUINDA, Calif. >> Evacuations were ordered as dry, hot winds fueled a wildfire burning out of control today in rural Northern California, sending a stream of smoke some 75 miles south into the San Francisco Bay Area.

The fast-moving blaze that broke out Saturday in western Yolo County charred at least 34 square miles of dry brush and threatened more than two dozen structures in ranchland northwest of Sacramento. No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear.

Autumn Edens marveled as a huge plume blocked the sun while she drove to her job as manager of the Corner Store in Guinda, a town of about 250 people just north of the fire.

“You can see the smoke and you can see an orange-red glow from the flames. It looks like a movie,” she said. “I’ve never seen a fire like that up close and it’s an intense feeling.”

It was one of two major wildfires in the northern part of the state, where temperatures were soaring, humidity was dropping and winds were steady.

A blaze burning for several days to the west in Lake County jumped containment lines Saturday, prompting additional evacuation orders. That fire was more than 70 percent contained after charring about 22 square miles of brush.

Smoke from the Yolo County fire was contributing to poor air quality in Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials urged people not to call 911 about smoke unless they see actively burning fire.

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