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California Wildfires: Heat, Drought Hamper Fight to Save Homes

5,000 homes and other structures were under threat as drought conditions hampered firefighters battling a dozen California wildfires.
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More than 6,500 firefighters struggled in scorching, parched conditions Wednesday to keep up with a dozen major wildfires burning the length of California, and with "red flag" conditions extended for another day, the fate of almost 5,000 threatened homes and other structures remained in the balance.

The fires were chewing through almost 205,000 acres of the drought-choked state, where at least 232 homes and other structures have already been damaged or destroyed, state and federal fire agencies reported. The two biggest fires, in federal parkland in Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County, weren't posing immediate threats to lives or property, but the others were in or near populated areas — most notably in the Siskiyou County town of Weed, where a 375-acre fire threatened about 1,000 homes, and in El Dorado County, where a fire northeast of Pollock Pines grew by 50 percent to 27,930 acres, menacing more than 2,000 homes and 1,500 other structures and forcing the evacuations of more than 2,150 residents.

Every book in Weed's town library was burned to ashes, and Holy Family Catholic Church was incinerated. "The good thing that has happened is nobody is injured, nobody's hurt," the Rev. Joshy Mathew told NBC News. "Everybody is alive."



— M. Alex Johnson