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Firefighters battling blazes in Nevada, California

Updated:
STEAD, Nev. (AP) -- Firefighters struggled through the night to
slow a wildfire that forced the evacuation of 60 ranch homes and
singed the whiskers of exotic animals at a shelter.

The evacuation of the Antelope Valley about 10 miles north of
Reno remained in effect this morning, but residents were to be
allowed to return during the day, said firefighters' spokeswoman
Anna Payne.

The blaze was 40 percent contained today after burning through
about 4,500 acres of dry sagebrush and juniper, she said.

It also burned to within a few miles of a housing division in
neighboring Lemmon Valley late Tuesday.

There were no injuries and no immediate word of any structure
damage.

The blaze, visible from U.S. Highway 395, was sparked by a
vehicle fire near the Animal Ark Shelter northwest of Stead and
burned through the shelter. The shelter's occupants, including a
tiger, a bobcat and a coyote, were evacuated safely.

"There were some burnt whiskers and singed noses but amazingly
all the animals survived," said Washoe County spokesman Bob
Harmon.

In northeastern California, firefighters continued to battle
over 100 lightning-ignited fires that have charred 30,000 acres.
More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blazes.

"We're dealing with some of the roughest country we have in
Butte County, a lot of rock bluffs which makes it difficult to
build a fire line," said John Hawkins, a California Department of
Forestry spokesman.

A woman was found burned to death in a vehicle Tuesday off a
dirt road near Lake Oroville, said Mary Huggins, a CDF spokeswoman.
Authorities were investigating.

Another fire sparked by lightning two days ago continued to burn
near Doyle, Calif. Smoke spread into Nevada, combining with the
Stead blaze to form a plume of smoke visible for more than 20
miles.

Nearly 600 firefighters also were working to halt a stubborn
fire in some 1,700 acres of brush and timber in California's
Stanislaus National Forest.

The blaze began Monday in steep, brushy terrain near Highway
120, about eight miles west of Yosemite National Park and 120 miles
east of San Francisco.

Firefighters were mainly focused on keeping the flames away from
the wooded area around the main fork of the Tuolumne River, a
designated wild and scenic river, said Richard Wisehart, the
forest's main spokesman.

The fire closed the highway about four miles east of Groveland,
effectively shutting down that entrance to Yosemite. The cause of
the blaze was under investigation.



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