Gusty winds, dry and unstable air could push California wildfire into threatened communities

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HAPPY CAMP, California — Crews battling a wildfire threatening hundreds of homes in a far Northern California forest warned residents Tuesday that it could burn right up to their homes.

The weather forecast called for low humidity and gusty winds through Wednesday evening around the blaze in the Klamath National Forest. Combined with unstable air, the fire could generate a smoke column that could push embers as far as 2 miles, jumping containment lines and starting spot fires near some of the threatened homes, fire information officer Paul Gibbs said.

"We saw these conditions a few days ago, but the fire was much farther away from the communities. Now it's much closer," he said. "If it does that again, then you might have potential to reach these communities."

Gibbs said the fire was about 2½ miles from the community of Hamburg on Tuesday morning. It had burned through 100 square miles and was 15 percent contained.

About 250 homes were under mandatory evacuation orders, with another 695 considered threatened.

Crews were removing vegetation around homes and putting in contingency containment lines using bulldozers in anticipation of increased fire activity.

The fire is among a number of lightning-sparked blazes that began in the area in mid-August. The others are either fully contained or nearing full containment.

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