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Dry, warm weather fuels unusual January fires in Northern California



High winds and unseasonably warm weather fueled several wildfires in Northern California on Tuesday as hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate, state fire officials said.

Fire crews are working on multiple fronts to contain at least five active fires that have ignited within the CZU Complex Fire burn area in Santa Cruz County. Several nearby neighborhoods have been evacuated and firefighters are struggling to gain access because of hazardous tree conditions from the previous blaze, according to state fire officials.

The Complex Fire started Aug. 16 after a barrage of lightning bolt strikes. Separate fires merged into a complex of blazes that charred more than 135 square miles across San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, NBC Bay Area reported. One person died.

“We responded to many more fires overnight, but most have been contained and controlled,” Santa Cruz fire officials said in a statement posted on Facebook. “We have other smaller fires within the unit, but these listed are the top priority.”

Earlier Tuesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said firefighters responded to at least 10 small vegetation fires in the last 12 hours. High winds knocked down power lines, trees and other debris in a region that has seen little to no rain this winter.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported at least a dozen fires in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties over the last 24 hours.

The National Weather Service recorded record-high temperatures in San Francisco and Oakland on Monday with temperatures in the 70s across most of the region.

More than 53,000 power outages were reported across the Bay Area as of Tuesday morning, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

A fire weather warning is also in effect for parts of Southern California due to gusty winds and low humidity through Tuesday evening.

In Bakersfield, the Wolf Fire rapidly burned more than 75 acres in the Wind Wolves Preserve nature conservancy Tuesday afternoon, threatening wildlife, including foxes and hares, and the plants needed to sustain them.



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