A small wildfire swept through a US mobile home park, leaving dozens of homes in ashes, the latest in a series of explosive blazes propelled by gusts that have torn through northern California mountains and forests.
The drought-parched region was expected to see red flag warnings for dangerously high winds and hot, dry weather through to Thursday.
Those conditions have fed a dozen uncontrolled wildfires, including the month-old Dixie Fire and the nearby Caldor Fire in the northern Sierra Nevada that incinerated much of the small rural towns of Greenville and Grizzly Flats.
No deaths have been reported despite the speed and damage of the blazes.
On Wednesday, a grass fire driven by winds up to 30mph destroyed dozens of mobile homes in Lake County and injured at least one resident before firefighters stopped its progress, fire officials said at an evening briefing.
Rows of homes were destroyed on at least two blocks and television footage showed crews dousing burning homes with water.
Children were rushed out of an elementary school as a field across the street burned.
Some 1,600 people were ordered to flee, with Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin warning of “immediate threat to life and property”.
Lake County has experienced repeated wildfires in the past decade that have destroyed hundreds of homes.
At least 16,000 other homes remain threatened by California wildfires, which are among some 100 burning throughout a dozen Western states, fire officials said.
Tens of thousands of people remain under evacuation orders.
No deaths have been reported, despite the speed and ferocity of the blazes, which have at times created their own erratic winds from heated air swirling into smoke clouds.
Flames also have leapfrogged miles ahead of the front lines as winds scattered embers, hot ash and chunks of wood into dry vegetation, said Thom Porter, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“This is not going to end anytime soon,” he said of the Dixie Fire.
“Everybody’s going to be sucking smoke for a long time.”
Fire crews were able to make some progress on the Dixie Fire Wednesday, increasing containment to 35%, and some evacuation orders were lifted in Plumas and Tehama counties, where some people hadn’t seen their homes for a month.
But the Dixie and Caldor fires still menaced many small clusters of homes within and around national forests along with larger communities, including Pollock Pines, with a population of 7,000 and Susanville, population 18,000, which is the county seat of Lassen County.
Eldorado National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park were closed.