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US: Hundreds evacuated as California wildfires spread

US: Hundreds evacuated as California wildfires spread
Hundreds of thousands of residents lose power as utility companies seek to curb risk of additional fires

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Authorities have ordered residents of a small town in the state of California's wine country to evacuate as strong winds fuel roaring wildfires in the north of the U.S.'s most populous state.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office ordered Geyserville's residents to depart early Thursday morning.

"If you’re in Geyserville, leave now," the sheriff's office said in an advisory.

Wind gusts topping 70 mph (112 kph) and dry conditions are sending the Kincade Fire barreling toward the community, which is home to more than 800 people and is a popular stop on the region's wine tours.

The fire is 0% contained and has burned more than 10,000 acres since it began early Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, commonly referred to as Cal Fire.

Its cause remains unknown. The Los Angeles Times reported several structures have already been lost to the fire.

Authorities are expected to give an update on the Kincade Fire around mid afternoon.

Meanwhile, fire officials in southern California have nearly extinguished the second-largest ongoing wildfire in the state.

The Saddle Ridge Fire, which began Oct. 10, has burned 8,800 acres and is nearly-fully extinguished with Cal Fire reporting 97% containment.

But there are two other smaller fires burning in the south of the state.

California is experiencing high-danger fire conditions due to high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.

Red-flag warnings have been issued up and down the state, including in Los Angeles county, the largest population center in the state.

Pacific Gas and Electric, which runs power utilities for much of northern California, began shutting off power for residents in the Sierra Nevada foothills and north of the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday in a bid to prevent potential wildfires sparked by downed lines.

The shutoffs continued Thursday for residents of Kern and San Mateo counties with over 200,000 residents expected to be affected. In all, parts of 17 counties have been affected by the public safety shut-offs.

Southern California Edison meanwhile said nearly 20,000 residents in Kern, Los Angeles and Riverside counties were without power as they also followed suit.

An additional 286,000 residents may have their power cut off, the utility warned.


source: News Feed
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