Flames chase 1,200 people from homes in Northern California

A two-story structure burns in a subdivision off Morgan Valley Road as a wildfire burns in Lower Lake, Calif., Saturday Aug. 13, 2016. More evacuation orders have been issued as the wildfire grows in Northern California, threatening the lake community of about 1,300 that was evacuated a year ago because of a destructive fire. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

LOWER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — Flames raced through dry brush and forced more than 1,000 people to flee their homes in a Northern California lake community that was evacuated in a devastating wildfire last year.

Authorities ordered about 1,200 residents to leave 500 homes south of the town of Lower Lake. The wildfire spread to more than 2 square miles by early Sunday, and crews face hot weather and little cloud cover as they try to get a handle on the flames burning largely out of control.

“The fire activity could change in a moment’s notice right now,” said Suzie Blankenship, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire was throwing embers and spreading rapidly because of parched conditions brought on by the state’s historic drought, officials said.

“The fuels are extremely dry,” Blankenship said. “This is the time of year when everybody has to be extra cautious.”

The flames threatened the houses of an additional 3,000 people in a subdivision, and they have been told to stay vigilant in case they need to evacuate, she said.

Firefighting aircraft and 500 personnel were attacking the blaze, whose cause was being investigated.

Lower Lake was evacuated nearly a year ago by a nearby wildfire that ravaged most of rural Lake County and parts of Napa County about 90 miles north of San Francisco. It killed four people, destroyed more than 1,300 homes and was considered California’s third-most-destructive wildfire.

A report issued this week concluded that faulting wiring in a hot tub ignited the 120-square-mile fire.

Another wildfire that broke out Saturday afternoon forced the evacuation of 135 homes south of Lake Nacimiento in central California, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office said.

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