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New evacuations ordered as California wildfires spread

New evacuations ordered as California wildfires spread
Firefighters look for hot spots from the Anza fire, burning southeast of Hemet in Riverside County. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Wildfires across the state are burning more than 200,000 acres, chewing through dry brush and parched forests while forcing the evacuation of dozens of residents.

In the Six Rivers National Forest, near the northwestern corner of the state, more than 5,000 firefighters are battling a string of blazes totaling nearly 70,000 acres, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Peggi Lawrence.

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Lightning storms ignited the fires in late July and they have continued to burn as firefighters navigate steep, rugged terrain.

"What is fortunate for us: no new fires have shown up," Lawrence said.

The neighboring Shasta-Trinity National Forest is also coping with fires on more than 60,000 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The sizable fires have generated significant smoke, prompting officials to warn inland residents nearby to limit outdoor activity.

Meanwhile, a wildfire north of the Napa Valley more than doubled in size Tuesday to cover 14,000 acres, nearly merging with the southern edge of the massive Rocky fire, authorities said.

The swiftly growing Jerusalem fire — named for its position within the Jerusalem Valley — began Sunday and is threatening 50 homes, prompting mandatory evacuations that remain in effect.

Erratic winds have challenged the nearly 1,700 firefighters battling the blaze, with officials warning residents to be vigilant for sudden shifts in the fire's direction.

Growth in the fire slowed in the daylight as humidity rose and temperatures dropped, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of Tuesday evening, the blaze was 5% contained.

A new fire map released Tuesday shows the Jerusalem fire touching the southernmost edge of the Rocky Fire, which has charred nearly 70,000 acres since erupting on July 29. That fire is 88% contained, Cal Fire said.

The causes of both wildfires are under investigation.

The Anza fire, about 20 miles southeast of Hemet in Riverside County, has burned 487 acres and was 50% contained as night fell Tuesday, according to the county's Fire Department. Sparked by a burning motor home that spread to dry vegetation, the Anza fire left four people injured, including three firefighters.

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