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POLLOCK PINES, Calif. – An out-of-control wildfire in Northern California threatened more than 2,000 homes and consumed huge swaths of timber land east of Sacramento while another town near the Oregon Border took reckoning of the damage done by a wildfire that burned 200 homes earlier in the week.
In the fire east of Sacramento, 2,500 firefighters were taking on the blaze that was threatening 2,003 homes and another 1,505 smaller structures, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
"It's been an explosive couple of days," CalFire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
The fire has burned nearly 44 square miles of trees and brush and is just 5 percent contained.
"We are faced with a large and dangerous fire," Laurence Crabtree, a U.S. Forest Service supervisor for the Eldorado National Forest, told the Sacramento Bee. "We have had significant losses of public timber land, private timber land and watershed."
Most of the threatened homes were in Pollock Pines, 60 miles east of Sacramento. Hundreds of them are under evacuation orders, but it wasn't immediately clear exactly how many.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Wednesday, freeing up funds for the two fires. Brown had also secured federal grants to fight each of them.
In the town of Weed, where a blaze began Monday and raged across the community, teams of firefighters went house-to-house on Wednesday to pin down damage done by a wildfire that officials estimated had destroyed 110 homes and damaged another 90.
The new figures from brought a marked increase from the initial estimate that a total of 150 structures had been destroyed or damaged in the blaze that began Monday and rapidly swept across the town. Four firefighters lost their homes.
Two churches, a community center and the library also burned to the ground, while an elementary school and the city's last wood-products mill were damaged by flames that had been pushed by 40-mph winds.
Insurance companies worked to find places to live for the people who lost their homes.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation. It was 60 percent contained after burning 375 acres.
Burned neighborhoods remained off-limits, but people have been finding ways in since the fire started.
The Rev. Bill Hofer, pastor of Weed Berean Church, said power was back on in his home, which was still standing on the edge of the devastation zone, and he was planning to return Wednesday night — despite the evacuation order — to deter vandalism.
"The more people home with the lights on, the better," he said.