The Latest: Crews make progress on deadliest California fire

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in California (all times local):

7:55 a.m.

Officials say fire crews have made progress on the deadliest of two dozen fires burning in Northern California.

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said Thursday the blaze burning in Sonoma County is 10 percent contained.

But he warns that potential gusty winds forecast to hit the area later in the day could hamper firefighting efforts.

Since it began Sunday, the wildfire in Sonoma County has charred 53 square miles (137 square kilometers) and killed 13 people.

Blazes burning in three other Northern California counties have killed 10 people.

Entire cities have evacuated in anticipation of the next round of flames, their streets empty and the only motion coming from ashes falling like snowflakes.

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7:15 a.m.

A fire official says blazes burning in Northern California grew a bit overnight but it was not as dramatic as prior days.

However, that could change Thursday as winds gusting to 45 mph (72 kph) and dry air are expected to pummel areas north of San Francisco where at least 23 people have died and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean told Oakland television station KTVU that winds were calm early Thursday and firefighters had made some gains overnight.

Thousands of firefighters are battling at least 22 fires spanning more than 265 square miles (686 square kilometers) for a fourth day.

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6:10 a.m.

Officials believe at least 111 rural homes have been destroyed in a wildfire that is chewing through brush and timber on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California.

It’s one of more than 20 deadly and destructive fires burning across California.

Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said Thursday that damage estimates are preliminary and crews have had a hard time getting into mountain communities to survey burn areas.

Brown says overnight winds lessened somewhat, giving firefighters an edge as they beat back the fire that broke out Sunday north of Sacramento.

The blaze that has consumed nearly 19 square miles (49 square kilometers) was 20 percent contained Wednesday night.

At least 23 people have died and thousands of homes have been destroyed in other fires north of San Francisco.

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