Wildfires force thousands to evacuate

A wooden structure sits on the side of the road near Pine and Featherville, Idaho as flames from the Trinity Ridge Fire in the Boise National Forest engulf trees.

SACRAMENTO — A lightning-sparked wildfire roared unchecked yesterday through tinder-dry grass, brush and timber in north-central California, where an estimated 3,000 people were forced from their homes in several small, rural communities, authorities said.

The blaze, which erupted on Saturday amid some 900 lightning strikes unleashed by thunderstorms that rolled through Northern California, has scorched at least 12,000 acres of private and public land along the border of Shasta and Tehama counties, officials said.

There were no reports of injuries, but the so-called Ponderosa blaze has destroyed at least seven homes and was threatening about 3,000 more, said Mary Anne Aldrich, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

She said about 2,000 homes in several communities, including the towns of Manton and Shingletown, about 125 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital, were ordered evacuated starting on Saturday night.

A rough estimate of 3,000 people were believed to have displaced by the evacuation, but precise numbers were hard to come by, Aldrich said.

So far, a force of nearly 1,000 firefighters, 20 water tenders and three helicopters had yet to curtail the fire’s growth, officials said.

Hundreds of miles to the northeast in Idaho, a separate wildfire raged for a ninth day through rugged, sun-baked terrain in the Boise National Forest, where firefighters kept up a battle to prevent flames from reaching a newly evacuated town east of the state capital.

The Trinity Ridge blaze has swallowed well over 88,000 acres of sagebrush and timber in south-central Idaho since it was ignited on August 3 by an off-road vehicle that caught fire, authorities said.

The Idaho and Northern California fires were among nearly three dozen large conflagrations burning out of control on Sunday through nine drought-stricken Western states, devouring well over one million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Centre in Boise. (Reuters)

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