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New Evacuations Ordered as California Blazes Spread

  • VOA News

A firefighter works to put out a brush fire burning on the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 7, 2015.

A firefighter works to put out a brush fire burning on the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway in Los Angeles, California, Aug. 7, 2015.

Several wildfires in California have burned more than 800 square kilometers, including an area north of Napa Valley that nearly doubled in size overnight, threatening 50 homes and prompting mandatory evacuation orders.

The rapidly growing Jerusalem Fire, named for its location within northern California's Jerusalem Valley, was only five percent contained early Wednesday.

The blaze, fueled by erratic winds, forced some residents to evacuate their homes for a second time in two weeks as more than 1,100 firefighters battled to contain it.

Firefighters have nearly surrounded the larger, nearby Rocky Fire that started about two weeks ago and has burned 282 square kilometers. That fire destroyed 43 homes.

Lightning storms ignited most of the fires late last month and they have burned terrain that was dried out by four years of punishing drought.

Meanwhile, all evacuation orders have been lifted for the Anza Fire in southern California's Riverside County. The small wildfire was sparked by a burning motor-home leaving four people injured, including three firefighters.

Elsewhere in the western United States, a large wildfire burning along Lake Chelan in Washington state has grown to nearly 140 square kilometers, but firefighters were keeping it away from the communities of Holden Village and Stehekin.

In Alaska, the fire season has officially become the second biggest on record -- more than 20,500 square kilometers have burned this year, the Associated Press reported.

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