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California firefighters battle big wildfires in high heat

In this Monday, June 28, 2021, photo firefighters with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection work to extinguish hot spots after the Lava Fire burned through an area alongside U.S. Highway 97 northeast of Weed, Calif. A wildfire that has put thousands of people under evacuation orders in Northern California grew substantially but firefighters had some success against the flames, authorities said Wednesday, June 30. Burning in the shadow of the towering Mount Shasta volcano, the Lava Fire was ignited by lightning last week. (Scott Stoddard/Grants Pass Daily Courier via AP)

WEED, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters faced more hot and dry weather on the lines of big wildfires in Northern California on Thursday.

The extraordinary Pacific Northwest heat wave that reached down into the upper reaches of California was slowly receding but only slight cooling was expected before temperatures trend back up heading into the weekend.

The Lava Fire in the shadow of volcanic Mount Shasta grew to 30.7 square miles (79.5 square kilometers) and was 19% contained but all evacuation orders for communities north of the city of Weed remained in effect, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest said.

The steep, rocky terrain was challenging the nearly 1,300 firefighters on the lines of the blaze, which was ignited by lightning last week.

To the northeast, a fire that broke out Monday in the Klamath National Forest and forced evacuations covered 12.7 square miles (32.9 square kilometers) and was just 6% contained. The fire was expected to advance north toward Oregon. Its cause remained under investigation.

Evacuations were also in effect to the south where a new fire erupted Wednesday afternoon and spread rapidly in the Shasta Lake area north of the city of Redding. The fire was estimated at more than 4 square miles (10.3 square kilometers) early Thursday.