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Raging California wildfire burns right up to homes

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July 3, 2014: In this still frame from video provided by KNSD-TV, a home is fully involved in flames as crews scrambled to corral a wildfire that burned two homes near the San Diego County mountain town of Julian in Southern California. (AP/KNSD-TV)

Firefighters saved about 40 homes in a rural Northern California neighborhood as a fast-moving blaze came dangerously close during a holiday weekend that saw several destructive fires across California, officials said.

Tinder dry conditions and hot weather fueled the fire on the southeast shore of Lake Berryessa and it rapidly chewed through thousands of acres of thick brush near Golden Bear Estates, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

Officials said late Saturday and the blaze had burned through 11 square miles of territory and 30 percent contained.

"The fire burned right up to the homes," he said. "The firefighters took a stand and were able to protect the homes as it was raging through the neighborhood."

Officials said the homes had previously been evacuated.

Crews were hindered by extremely rugged and steep terrain, officials said.

Berlant said firefighters battling another blaze northwest of Lake Berryessa were being reassigned to attack the so-called Monticello Fire, which erupted Friday night near the Monticello Dam that forms the man-made lake.

That fire was 70 percent contained after burning nearly 7 square miles and destroying two homes. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the blaze.

Lake Berryessa, about 75 miles northeast of San Francisco, is a popular recreation spot attracting many boaters and campers during the July 4th weekend.

Further north, a fire tore through the tiny community of Collinsville along the Sacramento River on Friday, destroying eight homes and damaging three more, Chief Joe Rosewall of the Montezuma Fire District in Solano County said.

The fire is out, but 25 residents are without homes and it caused an estimated $2.5 million in damage, Rosewall said.

Meanwhile in Southern California, a fire near the mountain town of Julian that had destroyed two homes was 90 percent contained Saturday after burning about 220 acres.

Four firefighters were injured, state fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said. The extent of their injuries wasn't immediately clear, and the cause of the fire in central San Diego County was under investigation.

It broke out Thursday, prompting the mandatory evacuation of 200 homes and forcing the cancellation of the town's Fourth of July parade and celebration.

The lingering threat of the fire and the need to use roads for the firefight forced the city to take the year off from the festive celebration that usually draws 3,000 to 5,000 people.

State fire officials said they were bracing for more fires over the next couple of days.

"The holiday weekend is in full swing," Berlant said. "There's still a potential for more fires if the public is not careful."

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