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California wildfire near Sacramento forces hundreds to flee

PLYMOUTH, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California wildfire more than tripled in size Saturday, threatening vineyards and hundreds of homes, while a new blaze prompted evacuation of a community in Yosemite National Park.

Pushed by 20 mph wind gusts, the so-called Sand Fire that began Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills raced through more than 6 square miles of drought-stricken grasslands east of Sacramento.

The blaze, which has burned five homes and seven outbuildings, led to evacuation orders covering about 515 homes in and around the River Pines Estates community in Amador County.

"The fire's moving in and around homes in the area," said Lynn Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "The leading edge is bumping up against residences as we speak."

Firefighters battled the flames through the day in triple-digit temperatures. At first, the fire moved away from vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley, but a mid-afternoon wind change caused the flames to split and some crossed fire lines and headed down into a section of the wine country, Tolmachoff said.

The wildfire burned within 200 yards of the Story Winery in Plymouth on Friday, and the business was closed Saturday.

"We've got CalFire guys using our tasting room as a lookout point," owner Rob Campbell told the Sacramento Bee.

Sunset brought some relief, with slightly cooler and calmer weather.

"The wind has died down. It's definitely helping the firefighters out," Tolmachoff said. "We're not seeing the large flames. But now it's extremely smoky."

The fire was only 20 percent contained by nightfall despite efforts by 1,464 firefighters and aircraft that included a DC-10 air tanker.

CalFire says a vehicle that drove over dry vegetation started the fire, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and worsened air quality in the Sacramento area.

Meanwhile, a 500-acre fire that began Saturday afternoon threatened homes and cabins in Yosemite. Evacuations were ordered in Foresta, a community of about 45 homes inside the park where many park employees live, spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

An additional six homes outside the park also were evacuated, she said.

The area is well away from the heavily touristed Yosemite Valley, but road closures could add a half-hour to the drive in for park visitors, Cobb said.

About 300 firefighters were battling the blaze in an area scorched in a 2009 fire, Cobb said.

Wildfires also burned in other Western states. The nation's largest wildfire, the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in eastern Oregon, was 95 percent contained Saturday as crews also battled other fires in the state.

There was also progress on Washington's largest wildfire, the 390-square-mile Carlton Complex in north-central part of the state, which was almost 60 percent contained. Cooler weather and rain helped firefighters get a handle on the lightning-caused fire, but heat and wind picked up Saturday. Officials increased their estimate of burned homes from 150 to 300 Friday.

In Utah, evacuation orders for 200 homes in Summit County and 10 homes in Utah County were lifted. No homes burned and there were no injuries. One of the fires started early Saturday when two teenagers playing with fireworks ignited dry grass and brush, police said.

Other wildfires burned in Utah, Colorado and other states in the West.

Northern Calif. Residents Evacuate As Sand Fire Spreads

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bjredmond64 July 27 2014 at 11:15 AM

it really is sad to see fire ripping through so many of our states. it takes so long to regrow and rebuild.

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1 reply
gailneuman bjredmond64 July 27 2014 at 4:51 PM

Yup-lots of wildlife killed also.

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Gil July 27 2014 at 10:42 PM

The fires are caused by Mexicans trying to claim your territory.

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1 reply
coffeetime9 Gil July 28 2014 at 2:28 AM

Why can you not simply stick to the facts of the story. Mexicans had nothing to do with this fire!

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barbmalin July 27 2014 at 4:34 PM

This country needs a fleet of water and fire retardant airplanes to address these fires that we have every year. No one should have to lose their home because of wildfires. Spend our tax money on airplanes to put out the fires not on bombs.

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wrascil July 27 2014 at 1:16 PM

you can thank bill clinton for the nations wild fires...
by a single thoughtless stroke of the pen he created millions of acres of ash land out of the nations forest as pay back to the tree huggers that elected him

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bwess8 July 27 2014 at 4:31 PM

Flee , Flee Run for your life . Run forest Run .

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aztrukin July 27 2014 at 10:24 PM

Note to environmentalist wackos. Forest thinning and underbrush fires prevents these things from happening. You say save our forests so you can watch them burn down. The federal government should list all of you as pyromaniacs.

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Raven's Nest July 27 2014 at 6:54 PM

Mother Nature doing Her thing again. What I don't get is why municipal authorities and insurance companies approve of people building homes in known natural fire areas. Oh, silly me. I forgot. Tax source and insurance premiums. The only people I support are the fire-fighters who are risking their lives to protect this idiotic investment policy!

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gailneuman July 27 2014 at 4:50 PM

My heart goes out to all affected by wildfires. We lost out home in 1997 in a wildfire with 9 others destroyed and 25-30 damaged. Will never recover from losing everything in 20 minutes.

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Craigermt July 27 2014 at 3:05 PM

Let's see how this should really be shown as the causes. I am going to go out as an ecologist and prevent all lumbering or thinning of trees to make the area "natural". Then I wiill go out in the middle of nowhere and build my house, and we all know how "natural" that is out there. Then I am going to complain how bad it is I lost my home. And these are the same people that have long commutes driving those SUVs and then complain about how bad the drilling for oil is.

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1 reply
dtrevdav1 Craigermt July 27 2014 at 6:29 PM

Hey they earn lots more than your conservative red stater coming from far more economically powerful blue states. You know the old saying "Money Talks and Bull$hit Walks"!

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bps163 July 27 2014 at 1:13 PM

The border jumpers are setting the fires so it will draw man power from the border. how hard was it to come up with that idea. And it's not going to stop because it's working.

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