Thousands flee Northern Calif. wildfires

Aug. 20, 2012 at 8:37 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Wildfires that have burned woodlands and threatened communities for three weeks have forced thousands of northern Californians from their homes, officials said.

Residents of Canyondam and Big Meadows in Plumas County were ordered by officials to evacuate Sunday night, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A fire in that area has burned nearly 45,000 acres since July 29.

Voluntary evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Almanor and Prattville by the Plumas County Sheriff's Office.

In Tehama and Shasta counties, firefighters worked to bring another wildfire, the so-called Ponderosa fire, under control. Thousands of residents fled the area Sunday night and the fire endangered more than 3,500 homes.

About 1,000 firefighters battled flames in the towns of Manton, Shingletown and Viola. A fire in the area was started by lightning Saturday, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It has burned more than 12,000 acres.

Lightning strikes aided by dry weather conditions are blamed for a dozen wildfires across the state since Friday evening.

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