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An Air National Guard helicopter moves in to make a water drop as the Lodge Fire Complex between Leggett and Laytonville, Calif., on Friday Aug. 8, 2014. / Kent Porter, AP

ETNA, Calif. (AP) - Fire crews trying to gain ground on two wildfires that were threatening nearly 750 rural homes on national forest land in Northern California braced for more erratic winds on Monday from nearby thunderstorms.

The two fires threatening homes in the Klamath National Forest had burned through nearly 25 square miles of dry timber near the community of Etna in Siskiyou County.

Crews were getting a handle on the smaller of the two fires, which was responsible for most of the threatened homes, fire spokesman Richard Hadley said. It was 25 percent contained. But the second blaze burning about 8 miles away was fueled Sunday by gusty winds from a nearby storm system that sent flames up the steep canyons. It was 4 percent contained.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for about half a dozen homes. The other threatened homes were under an evacuation advisory. The fires were also threatening 46 commercial structures. The causes of the fires, which broke out late last month, were under investigation.

Much of Northern California was under a red flag warning through Tuesday night, with additional lightning strikes expected. Hadley said lightning was not predicted over the two Klamath fires on Monday, but wind gusts up to 30 mph would give firefighters trouble.

"We are anticipating a pretty active fire day again," he said.

Meanwhile, crews were battling a lightning-sparked wildfire in Mendocino County about 200 miles southwest of the Klamath blazes. The fire, which had burned through nearly 15 square miles, was threatening nearly 60 structures, and there were mandatory evacuation orders in place.

Elsewhere in the West, rescuers escorted to safety 19 hikers trapped on Sunday by a wildfire atop Saddle Mountain State Park near Seaside, Oregon.

And in Idaho, firefighters made progress against the state's largest wildfire, which had burned 101 square miles on the Idaho side of the Snake River near the Oregon and Washington border. The fire was nearly 50 percent contained, though crews were expecting triple-digit temperatures and gusty winds later in the week that could pose problems.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: California wildfires threaten hundreds of homes

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