Wild­fires some of largest in Calif. his­tory

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION / WORLD -

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Light­ning-sparked wild­fires in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia ex­ploded in size Fri­day to be­come some of the largest in state his­tory, forc­ing thou­sands to flee and de­stroy­ing hun­dreds of homes and other struc­tures as re­in­force­ments be­gan ar­riv­ing to help weary fire­fight­ers.

More than 12,000 fire­fight­ers aided by he­li­copters and air tankers are bat­tling wild­fires through­out Cal­i­for­nia. Three groups of fires, called com­plexes, burn­ing north, east and south of San Fran­cisco have to­gether scorched 780 square miles, de­stroyed more than 500 struc­tures and killed five peo­ple. More than 140,000 peo­ple are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

Fire crews with help from “co­pi­ous amounts of fixed-wing air­craft” were work­ing Fri­day to stop a large blaze from reach­ing com­mu­ni­ties in the West Dry Creek Val­ley of Sonoma County, he said.

The blazes, com­ing dur­ing a heat wave that has seen tem­per­a­tures top 100 de­grees, are tax­ing the state’s fire­fight­ing ca­pac­ity but as­sis­tance from through­out the coun­try was begin­ning to ar­rive, with 10 states send­ing fire crews, en­gines and air­craft to help, Gov. Gavin New­som said.

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