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Northern California wildfire forces hundreds to evacuate

A Northern California wildfire has destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and forced area residents to flee their lake community, authorities said Sunday.

The fast-moving Clayton fire broke out late Saturday afternoon off Highway 29 and Clayton Creek Road, forcing the entire community of Lower Lake — located more than 100 miles north of San Francisco — to evacuate, officials said.

Extreme hot weather combined with the dry brush allowed the fire to grow overnight, burning about 1,400 acres and destroying four homes, according to Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The amount of acreage grew to 3,000 on Sunday. The fire reached Main Street in Lower Lake and burned the post office and several businesses, according to the Associated Press. Patients at a hospital in nearby Clearlake had to be transferred to a facility 25 miles away.

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The fire, which is only 5% contained, has forced about 1,400 people to evacuate their homes, according to Undersheriff Chris Macedo of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.  

Berlant said the county was particularly hard hit by the state’s lingering drought.

“So when a fire ignites they’re able to move rapidly,” he said.

The Clayton fire is burning between last year’s Valley, Rock and Jerusalem fires that broke out around the Lower Lake area. 

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The wildfire is just one of several burning throughout California.

Farther south, the Soberanes fire, a deadly blaze burning north of Big Sur, has wiped out nearly 60 homes, burned more than 72,000 acres and killed a bulldozer operator. 

Cal Fire officials say the blaze, which was started by an illegal campfire, is 60% contained. 

ruben.vives@latimes.com

Staff writer Corina Knoll also contributed to this report.

For more Southern California news, follow @latvives on Twitter.

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UPDATES:

10:05 p.m.: This article was updated with new details about the fire.

7:45 p.m.: This article was updated with new information about buildings destroyed or damaged by the fire.

5:55 p.m.: This article was updated with new information about the fire.

This article was originally published at 1:50 p.m.


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