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California Wildfire Explodes to Nearly 15,000 Acres, Evacuations Ordered

At least six homes have been destroyed as the Butte Fire, located southeast of Sacramento, grew from around 4,000 acres to 14,700 acres Thursday.
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Driven by high winds and soaring temperatures, a wildfire in California more than tripled in size Thursday, swelling to more than 14,000 acres, fire officials said.

The so-called Butte Fire, located east of the town of Jackson southeast of Sacramento, was a little more than 100 acres shortly after it broke out at around 2:26 p.m. Wednesday, and grew to around 4,000 acres by Thursday.

Image: The Butte Fire broke out east of the town of Jackson
The Butte Fire burns in wooded areas east of Jackson, California. The fire swelled from 4,000 acres to more than 14,000 acres Thursday.NBC News

Over the day, and as temperatures soared, the fire grew to 14,700 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, said.

The fire had been 20 percent contained earlier Thursday, but by the evening it was only 10 percent contained, Cal Fire said.

The fire was "extremely active" Thursday, making substantial runs up a canyon and fueled by hot winds and high temperatures, a Cal Fire spokesman said.

At least six homes have been destroyed. There were mandatory evacuation orders for part of a subdivision and part of the town of Pine Grove, the department said. It was not immediately clear how many people were ordered to leave their homes.

A reporter for KCRA captured dramatic video of the fire as they drove near the blaze after it jumped a road and scorched a hillside Thursday, sending clouds of ash and smoke over the highway.

Jeanie Link was among those ordered to leave her home. She took down photographs from her walls after a sheriff's deputy knocked on her door at 2:30 a.m., NBC station KCRA reported.

"We just ran through the house grabbing things," Link told the station. Some forced to leave were staying in campers and recreational vehicles in a supermarket parking lot in Jackson, the station reported.

California is in its fourth year of a historic drought, which has exacerbated wildfire conditions. Six air tankers and nearly 60 fire engines are battling the blaze, which was being fueled by high heat, and low humidity and was "expanding in all directions," Cal Fire said in a statement.

Much of California is in the midst of a heat wave — in addition to the ongoing drought — with temperatures in Jackson forecast to reach 100 degrees in Jackson Thursday and similar temperatures forecast for Friday.