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A utility worker was killed near a Northern California wildfire as crews working in sweltering conditions battled multiple blazes, including twin fires that exploded in size and forced hundreds more to evacuate rural communities, officials said Sunday.

However, some days-old evacuations were lifted Friday in an area near Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft continue battling an vast blaze about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the OR line.

The two fires are burning about 14 miles apart and have destroyed 75 homes. The fires are threatening about 9,000 homes.

The two fires cover an area larger than the Carr Fire that damaged parts of Redding last week. It has destroyed 1,567 homes and other structures and blackened 133,924 acres (54,197 hectares), making it the sixth most destructive California wildfire on record.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said that fire was started two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer's flat tire.

The Ranch Fire is 156,678 acres and 27 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. A Red Flag Warning is in effect in Lake County from 11 a.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday due to gusty winds and low humidity in fire weather zones. "We are routinely now seeing fires reach 100,000 acres several times in one month and it's only July, so we have a long way to go in this fire season, and as we saw past year fire season can go right up through December". Insurers paid out more than USD14 billion in insurance claims due to fire damage around the world, nearly entirely due to the October and December events in California. Hughes was killed July 29 by a falling tree while fighting the wildfire that has closed Yosemite National Park at the height of tourist season.

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Ayeta was the seventh person to die in that blaze, which has scorched more than 154,000 acres in the scenic Shasta-Trinity region north of Sacramento, including two young children and their great-grandmother whose home was overrun by flames, a resident who authorities said refused to leave his home despite evacuation orders, and two firefighters. Dry, hot winds fueled both blazes, which have collectively charred almost 400 square miles (1,036 square kilometres) of brush and timber.

In total, 14 states are now reporting large fires. Varney's radio wasn't communicating with headquarters, so his assistant relayed messages - until they lost contact.

It killed two people, including a firefighter, and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings before being fully contained on January 12.

The report says his death highlights the need for better risk assessment, communication and supervision.

"Unstable conditions, shifting winds, steep terrain and dry fuels continue to challenge firefighters", a state fire update warned, noting that 35-mph wind gusts were expected on ridgetops that could whip up the flames.


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