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New California wildfire strands Fourth of July revelers

July 5, 2022 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters in Northern California were battling a fresh wildfire that broke out Monday east of Sacramento at a recreation area packed with Fourth of July revelers and forced a number of evacuations.

As the fire quickly spread, 85 to 100 people celebrating the holiday at a recreation area known as Vox Beach along a river in the area had to be taken to a nearby Pacific Gas & Electric Co. facility, said Amador County Sheriff Gary Redman.

Those people were safe at the facility Monday night, but unable to leave due to the fire danger, Redman said.

“We can’t get in there. Fire can’t get in there,” Redman told The Associated Press late Monday. “The trees keep going down. The whole place is on fire.”

The fire burning in Amador County quickly spread to 959 acres (388 hectares) as of just after 7 p.m. Monday, according to Cal Fire. The fire agency had said just hours earlier on Twitter that the fire was 75 acres (30 hectares) in size and “burning at a dangerous rate of spread in dry grass.”

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Redman said the rate of the fire’s spread had slowed by 10 p.m. Monday, and he was hopeful those stuck at the PG&E facility would not have to stay overnight. He said firefighters were working to clear a path to the facility so that a bus or patrol cars could be brought in to carry people out.

Redman said about 500 other people had been affected by mandatory and recommended evacuations.

He said the cause of the fire was not known, but that it did start in the Vox Beach area. He said that could suggest fireworks or a barbecue as a potential cause.

Vox Beach is about 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Sacramento.

The fire is one of several burning in the state.

Earlier Monday, authorities said evacuation orders and warnings had been lifted in another Northern California county after a wildfire there threatened about 500 homes and other buildings.

The Nevada County sheriff’s office said the warnings related to the Rices Fire were lifted early Monday. Residents were urged to be careful when returning to the area because of potential damage.

The fire broke out last Tuesday near the Yuba River and destroyed 5 homes and 8 other structures, fire officials said.

It began with a burning building and the flames spread to nearby dry vegetation in the rural area northeast of Sacramento about halfway between the state Capitol and the Nevada border.

The fire has burned about 900 acres (366 hectares) and is 65% contained. It is expected to be fully contained on Tuesday, officials said.