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DISASTERS

Flames from California wildfire claim 13 homes; 2nd fire near Yosemite threatens others

Wildfires burning near Northern California vineyards and in the Yosemite National Park area were threatening hundreds of homes even as crews worked to contain them.

The Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento was 50 percent surrounded as of late Sunday, after burning 13 homes and 38 outbuildings. It has scorched roughly 6 square miles of rugged grassland and timber near wine-growing regions in Amador and El Dorado counties.

While crews significantly enlarged the area they had corralled Sunday, "the steep, dry terrain continues to be a challenge" and about 515 homes remain threatened and under evacuation orders, according to a statement the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire started Friday when a vehicle drove over vegetation that is tinder-dry from years of drought.

About 1,900 firefighters, aided by aircraft including a DC-10 air tanker, were working to control the blaze.

The fire destroyed homes, cabins and a collection of 13 antique cars that a man was restoring in the town of Plymouth, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Neighbors, however, stepped in to help those forced from their homes and ranches.

The Amador County fairgrounds made room for displaced animals and as of noon Sunday had taken in 12 horses, seven rabbits, 15 chickens, two dogs, three cats and seven goats, said Karen Spencer, the marketing director for the Amador County Fair.

"We're right in the middle of our fair, but our livestock people are just moving over and making room," she told the Bee (http://bit.ly/1puo7An).

While the Red Cross has been able to provide clothes and food for the evacuees, the neighboring communities have joined the organization to help.

"We've got like 10 bags of new and slightly new clothes," Rodney Stanhope of Placerville said.

Stanhope said his Facebook call has led to people offering to buy underwear and socks and others offering their homes to evacuees.

"Everybody wants to help," Stanhope said.

In Central California, a fire near Yosemite National Park had spread to about 4 square miles and continued to threaten the small town of Foresta, where it destroyed one home.

An estimated 100 homes in Foresta and the small community of Old El Portal were evacuated Saturday, and residents remained out of their homes Sunday. Two shelters opened for people and animals.

The park itself, home to such sites as Half Dome mountain, Yosemite Meadows, a grove of Giant Sequoia trees and other wonders, remained open throughout Sunday and authorities said none of its treasures were threatened.

Wildfires also burned in other Western states, including Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Utah.

The nation's largest wildfire — the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in eastern Oregon, 45 miles northeast of Burns — was almost fully contained Sunday.

In north-central Washington, the Carlton Complex fire, the biggest in the state's history, burned as temperatures rose Sunday, but no major flare-ups have been reported.

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