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Hundreds evacuate as string of wildfires scorches parched California wilderness

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from Northern California, as firefighters battle 10 wildfires throughout the state.

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    A wall of flames lurches over a ridge as a resident of Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., prepares to evacuate because of the Rocky Fire, Wednesday evening.
    Kent Porter/The Press Democrat/AP
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Firefighters are battling several wildfires that have spread through drought-ravaged California. 

Five hundred people north of San Francisco have been evacuated as a growing bushfire has consumed several buildings in less than 12 hours after it first ignited, fire officials said on Thursday.

The blaze, called the “Rocky Fire,” is one of many in the state.

About 10 blazes were active in California, which is in its fourth year of record drought, according to fire officials.

The Rocky Fire started on Wednesday in Lake County, 110 miles north of San Francisco. The blaze rapidly spread to scorch 3,000 acres by early Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

The fire produced a smoky haze visible from 80 miles away in the wine-making region of Napa, where another wildfire has burned for a week and forced 200 people to evacuate on Wednesday.

Crews battling fires kept a blaze east of California’s Napa Valley from jumping any more containment lines, fire officials said.

"We're optimistic that we are able to stop and hold it," Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection, told the Associated Press.

A fire northeast of Sacramento burned through more than 3-1/2 square miles and is about half contained.

Residents in the Central California community of Cascadel Woods north of Fresno were being warned to prepare to evacuate because of another blaze that has charred more than 3 square miles. It is 30 percent contained.

Authorities say a boy acknowledged starting the Cascadel Woods fire by playing with a lighter to burn pine needles in the dry Sierra Nevadas. The boy faces criminal charges but remains out of custody because he and his family are cooperating, officials say.

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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