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Firefighters advance on blaze that shut California highway


CASTAIC, CALIFORNIA: Firefighters were advancing in a wildfire that crossed a southern California highway and spread across dry hillsides, while a new fire forced residents of a northern California community to evacuate.
The fire broke out Saturday afternoon near Castaic in north Los Angeles County. Powered by 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) winds, the fire bit through dry brush like tinder and leapt across the busy highway, which stretched for more than half a square mile.
the California Highway Patrol it closed a section of the interstate for several hours as tankers dumped bright orange retardant into the flames. A large flare sent dense smoke drifting into the lanes of the freeway Sunday afternoon, CHP reported.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital to treat burns, Andrew said. Mitchell, spokesperson for Angeles National Forest.
Authorities said the fire was 63% contained Sunday, adding that firefighters advanced overnight with the help of water-dumping planes and an aggressive ground attack, Mitchell said.
He said crews would take advantage of the beginning of a cooling trend Sunday to build containment lines.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Meanwhile, a fire that broke out Sunday afternoon prompted Mendocino County authorities to evacuate parts of Calpella, a community on the Russian River about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Ukiah. Video images posted on Twitter shows the fire pushing in the direction of Lake Mendocino.
Further north, residents of a mountain town devastated by the massive Caldor fire south of Lake Tahoe will be able to return Sunday to inspect the damage. Most of the Grizzly Flat homes, as well as the school, post office, church and fire station were destroyed in the first days of the month-long fire. Evacuation orders were also raised for houses throughout State Route 50 as containment of the 342-square-mile (886-square-kilometer) wildfire increased to 65%.
President Joe biden issued a disaster declaration late Sunday for El Dorado County in an effort to provide federal funding to eligible state, tribal and local governments, in addition to certain private non-profit organizations, that have been affected by the Caldor fire damage.
Firefighters strayed from fighting the blaze to fight multiple lightning fires overnight as thunderstorms hit the state from Thursday night through Friday.
The thunderstorms dropped light rain to slightly dampen the drought-stricken north, fire officials said.
Up to half an inch of rain fell on parts of the Dixie Fire, which began in mid-July and has washed away huge swaths of the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Waterfalls. However, firefighters said the rain is drying rapidly and vegetation is becoming more flammable.
The second largest fire in California history has burned 1,500 square miles (3,885 square kilometers) of land and more than 1,300 homes and other buildings. It was 65% contained.

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