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Calif. wildfires threaten hundreds of homes

A second day of hot weather and dry wind stoked new wildfires across Northern California on Wednesday, damaging at least 50 homes and threatening hundreds more.
These condominiums in Stockton, Calif., were destroyed Tuesday by a fast, wind-driven brushfire.Steve Yeater / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A second day of hot weather and dry wind stoked new wildfires across Northern California on Wednesday, as firefighters battled blazes that have damaged at least 50 homes and threaten hundreds more.

More than 1,400 residents were evacuated from the Bonny Doon area and three firefighters trapped by flames while battling that fire near Lincoln were being treated at a burn center in Sacramento.

Two were being treated for moderate to severe burns to their faces and arms, while the third was treated for facial burns and released, said Bill Mendonca, battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters battled a blaze near Palermo, about 60 miles north of the state capital, that damaged about 21 homes on Tuesday and threatened about 275 others, fire officials said.

"I grabbed a few pieces of clothing, my purse. My daughter grabbed her important papers and some clothing, whatever we could put in the car, and we left," said Debbie Buchman, who fled her home with her daughter and granddaughter and spent the night at a shelter. "We were hoping we would still have a home when we got back, but we didn't."

"The whole house was burnt to the ground, with everything we own," she said in a telephone interview. "It's pretty rough."

Surgery for firefighter
Meanwhile, a Sacramento Metro Fire Department captain who suffered third-degree burns to his hands and second-degree burns to his arms while battling a grass fire southeast of the city on Tuesday underwent surgery at the burn center Wednesday.

"Doctors are saying he will fully recover, but it will take months," said Capt. Jeff Lynch, a department spokesman.

More than 70 firefighters battled the 6,400-acre fire Wednesday to make sure the wind didn't blow sparks across fire lines, he said.

"We have extreme fire danger, a lot of wind, and a single spark can set it off," said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state fire agency. The extreme fire danger was expected to last through Thursday.

Firefighters continued to battle blazes in Stockton, where 32 homes were damaged Tuesday, and near the coast in Monterey and Sonoma counties.

A record-dry spring has left grass, brush and trees ready to burst into flames that can then be spread by the high winds, firefighters said.

Colo., N.C. fires
In Colorado, more than 50 firefighters were battling a lightning-sparked blaze at a remote U.S. Army training site about 160 miles south of Denver.

The fire has burned about 8,000 acres inside Fort Carson's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, spokeswoman Karen Linne said. The vast training site stretches across 235,000 acres.

Across the country in eastern North Carolina, firefighters planned to burn harvested wheat fields to clear potential fuel for a wildfire burning in and around the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

About 50 homes were ordered evacuated because of the 64-square-mile wildfire, officials said. The fire, sparked June 1 by a lightning strike, is about 40 percent contained, officials said.

A fire at an under-renovation citrus processing facility in the southern Texas town of Palmview destroyed at least one building but no one was injured. About 45 workers were in the Rio Queen Citrus Inc. unit when the fire broke out and all were accounted for.