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California wildfire grows by 20,000 acres, destroys 20 homes

The Beckwourth Complex Fire, fueled by a Western heat wave, crossed into Nevada and was 8 percent contained.
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California's largest wildfire burning amid a scorching summer heat wave consumed more than 20,000 more acres Sunday and destroyed about 20 homes, authorities said.

The fire, called the Beckwourth Complex, has expanded to Nevada, where it jumped a popular highway along the Sierra Nevada mountain range and forced evacuations in Washoe County.

"I know the dry conditions and the winds have been a factor," said U.S. Forest Service incident spokeswoman Kimberly Kaschalk. "That's been a challenge since Day One."

The Doyle Fire Protection District in Doyle, about 50 miles north of Reno, Nevada, estimated in a statement Sunday that 20 homes had been lost to the expanding blaze.

The California Transportation Department said Sunday afternoon that part of Highway 395 was closed in Lassen County, and the sheriff's office said the mandatory evacuation zone had been expanded.

The 83,926-acre blaze was 8 percent contained Sunday. Federal fire officials reported some progress in holding the fire on the south and southwestern flanks.

Forecasters were optimistic.

"Good news!" the National Weather Service in Reno tweeted Sunday. "Temperatures finally start to cool mid to late week."

Federal forecasters said overnight lows in some Sierra Nevada valleys could dip into the 40s by midweek.