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New storm warnings raise fire risk

As flames spread, residents in five counties are being asked to evacuate.

June 27, 2008|Eric Bailey | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Smoke continued to bedevil Northern California as hundreds of wildfires burned across the region Thursday, blackening 160,000 acres, with no end in sight.

Thousands of Northern California residents remained evacuated from their homes as major blazes raged for a sixth day since a freak barrage of thunderstorms rolled across the region last weekend.

Areas of Butte, Shasta and Trinity counties still were under evacuation orders, and authorities were suggesting that residents leave home in fire-threatened spots in Lassen, Modoc, Mendocino, Trinity and Shasta counties.

Half a dozen state highways in those counties were closed, hindering travel as the summer vacation season kicks into gear. Authorities said the property damage had not been widespread.

In the last week, 18 residences, one commercial building and 19 other structures have been lost, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

A blanket of smoke continued to plague the Central Valley, with air quality readings in Sacramento topping out just short of the "very unhealthful" range Thursday.

In some spots, the smoke was so thick that airline flights were delayed. Residents with breathing problems were being urged to stay indoors.

Weather forecasters, meanwhile, were predicting continued light winds and relatively mild temperatures, which are making the battle easier for the more than 12,000 firefighters battling the flames.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning that the coming weekend could include mountain thunderstorms, raising the possibility of new fires.

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eric.bailey@latimes.com

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