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Thousands evacuated from path of Northern California wildfire

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Authorities have evacuated thousands of residents from a Northern California town due to a growing wildfire that's so far charred hundreds of acres.

Fire officials said Friday the Mountain Fire has already burned about 600 acres in Shasta County, near Redding. It is about 40 percent contained.

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Nearly 4,000 residents from 1,100 homes in the area have been evacuated so far. About 50 fire trucks, six bulldozers, 14 water trucks and four helicopters are fighting the flames. One house has been destroyed.

Officials said much of the fire is focused on a brushy area around unincorporated Bella Vista, Calif. -- one of the areas burned by the Carr Fire a year ago.

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An emergency shelter has been set up at a church in Redding.

Crews hope slowing winds will help them get a better handle on the fire. Gusts recorded at 20 mph spread the fire Thursday.

"The north winds are what we watch for, especially this time of year," National Weather Service meteorologist Cory Mueller said.

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Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to more than 1,200 customers, at Cal Fire's request. The utility has taken much of the blame for the record-setting Camp Fire last year that killed more than 80 people.

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California's wildfire season has been relatively calm this year, with only a few thousand burned acres. Nearly 2 million acres were destroyed last year.

"There's been nothing as dynamic as this at the moment," Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean told the Sacramento Bee.

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