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Fires threaten hundreds of homes on north state

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POSTED August 12, 2012 7:53 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Authorities have lifted an evacuation order for residents in a rural area northeast of Fresno as firefighters gain control of a blaze sparked by a discarded cigarette.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection allowed residents near the community of Tollhouse to go home Sunday afternoon.

The fire threatened 200 homes and temporarily shut a highway when it began Saturday afternoon. It is 30 percent contained after scorching 138 acres.

More than 500 firefighters are battling the fire.

In far Northern California, additional firefighters arriving to help out and an increase in the humidity combined to slow the advance of a wildfire in the Plumas National Forest, but up to 600 homes were now considered threatened, fire officials said.

After consuming nearly 47 square miles, the forward movement of the Chips Fire was slowed late Saturday.

But parts of the fire moved toward Lake Almanor, a popular recreational area surrounded by small communities and campgrounds, prompting authorities to increase the number of homes considered threatened, said fire spokeswoman Alissa Tanner.

The residents of those homes were not ordered to evacuate, but the residents of about 55 homes ordered to leave in a previous evacuation remained out of their homes.

"We have to plan for the worst and hope for the best," Tanner said.

With the wildfire only 8 percent contained, officials did not expect to have full containment until Aug. 31. The cause of the fire remains under investigation

About 50 miles to the northwest, a fire burning in Lassen Volcanic National Park has expanded to nearly 28 square miles.

The Reading Fire has forced the closure of Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway and several trails as it burns in an area of pine forests and thick brush.

Officials said the blaze was ignited July 23 and is one of a number of recent fires sparked by lightning.

Fire officials expect to have the blaze contained Aug. 21.

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