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article imageCalifornia wildfires force thousands from their homes

By Nathan Salant     Sep 16, 2014 in Environment
Weed - Thousands of Northern California residents were forced to evacuate their homes Tuesday as a series of wildfires burned out of control in the drought-afflicted countryside.
As many as a dozen forest fires were burning Tuesday morning, 11 of them in Northern California from Yosemite National Park to the Oregon border.
Thousands of firefighters from around the state have been brought in to fight the flames and save dozens of small communities along Interstate 5, which runs the length of California, with thousands of acres of forestland and hundreds of homes threatened, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Firefighters reported making progress early Tuesday on the Boles Fire burning in Siskiyou County near Oregon, which destroyed more than 100 structures and forced evacuation of the communities of Weed, Carrick and Lake Shastina.
But major fires still were burning out of control in Madera County near Yosemite and in El Dorado County near Sacramento, the state capital.
An official with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the newspaper that the Boles Fire torched homes, businesses and a Roman Catholic church in Weed, a city of around 3,000.
Weed's main employer, the Roseburg Mill, reported that the fire damaged buildings and equipment at the plant early Tuesday as winds picked up, forcing firefighters to dig trenches to try to keep flames away from homes, Cal Fire spokeswoman Amy Head told the newspaper.
"We got a pretty good grip on it last night, but with the wind kicking up like this, things could always happen," she said.
The blaze reportedly started Monday afternoon in dry grass outside of town and quickly jumped Highway 97 and bore down on the small town.
Longtime Weed resident Dale Anzo said destruction in the city was "terrible."
It's the most horrible thing I've ever seen to hit town," said Arno, who defended his home by wetting down the roof with a garden hose as the flames approached, the newspaper said.
"The Catholic church burned, the machines at the mill burned, the house of my neighbors burned . . . it's terrible," he said.
The local Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka, the newspaper said.
The Courtney Fire burning 14 miles south of Yosemite destroyed 61 buildings and forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people by Tuesday, the newspaper said, and a wildfire near Pollock Pines in El Dorado County grew to more than 11,000 acres.
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