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Containment of Redding area wildfire at 40%, 3 homes lost
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REDDING  (AP) — Firefighters gained ground against a Northern California wildfire Friday where damage assessments showed three homes and four outbuildings were destroyed in the region, which is still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly and destructive blaze last year.

Containment of the 600-acre (243-hectare) blaze in a rural area north of the city of Redding increased to 40%, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

The fire erupted Thursday about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of San Francisco and was rapidly spread by winds, which eased in the afternoon and overnight.

The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office initially said more than 1,100 homes and other structures were threatened and evacuations were ordered for nearly 3,900 people.

Some of those orders were lifted Thursday night, and Cal Fire information officer Cheryl Buliavac said 200 residences remained in the mandatory evacuation zone.

A potential return of winds and high heat were expected to be a concern for the hundreds of firefighters on the lines.

“Close to 105 (40.5 Celsius) is the temperature predicted for today and this is really steep, difficult terrain, so it’s hard arduous work,” Buliavac said.

The fire was burning about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from a fire that last year destroyed more than 1,000 homes in Shasta and Trinity counties and killed eight people, including three firefighters.

That inferno burned to the edge of Redding, famously creating a rare and monstrous fire tornado.

This year, California has so far avoided a repeat of the scale of wildfire destruction seen in recent years, although the worst of that occurred in the fall, including one that destroyed nearly 15,000 homes as it wiped out the town of Paradise and killed 86 people.

As of Sunday, acreage burned in areas of state responsibility was down 90% compared to the average over the past five years and down 95% from last year, according to statistics from Cal Fire. Fires on U.S. Forest Service land have also declined.