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Hundreds of blazes strike Calif. forests and wine country

Hundreds of wildfires sparked by lightning flared Sunday across the heart of wine country and remote forests in Northern California, the latest batch of destructive blazes in the bone-dry state.

One had spread across nearly 6 square miles by early Sunday after starting the previous afternoon in Napa County and quickly moving into a mostly rural area of Solano County.

The fire threatened more than 100 buildings as it fed on grassy woodland about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, said Roger Archey, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

It was 35 percent contained Sunday morning and had destroyed one home, Archey said. Evacuations were ordered for some residents, said agency spokeswoman Nancy Carniglia.

Wildfires have destroyed more than 175 homes in Northern California so far this year. Blazes started popping up in the region just as California's unofficial fire season began in mid-May, following the state's driest two-month period on record.

Two small blazes about 25 miles south of San Jose forced several residents from their homes Sunday. Both were partially contained, and officials said most residents would be let back into their homes by today. Those fires were also blamed on lightning.

Thunderstorms were responsible for as many as 75 fires in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, about 160 miles north of Sacramento. They ranged in size from less than an acre to more than a square mile. None immediately threatened homes, said Forest Service spokesman Michael Odle.

Mendocino County had as many as 90 fires, charring nearly 8 square miles, Cal Fire officials said. South of San Francisco, a fire that closed a stretch of highway was 90 percent contained.

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