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Thousands flee as fire scorches California

Thousands of people remain under evacuation orders after a wind-whipped wildfire raged through rural northern California.

A number of people were injured when the fire that began on Friday afternoon on or near a wood products plant quickly blew into a neighbourhood on the northern edge of Weed, but then carried the flames away from the small city.

Allison Hendrickson, spokeswoman for Dignity Health North State hospitals, said two people were brought to Mercy Medical Centre Mount Shasta.

One was in a stable condition and the other was transferred to UC Davis Medical Centre.

Rebecca Taylor, of Roseburg Forest Products, said it was unclear if the fire started near or on company property.

A large empty building had burned, she said, but all employees were evacuated and none had reported injuries.

The blaze, dubbed the Mill Fire, was pushed by 56km/h winds and quickly engulfed 10 square kilometres of ground.

The flames raced through tinder-dry grass, bush and timber. About 7500 people in Weed and nearby communities were under evacuation orders.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskyou County and said a federal grant had been received “to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire”.

About the time the blaze started, power outages were reported that affected some 9000 customers.

Several thousand remained without electricity late into the night, according to an outage website for power company PacifiCorp, which said they were due to the wildfire.

It was the third large wildfire in as many days in California, which has been in the grip of a prolonged drought and is sweltering under a heatwave that is expected to push temperatures past 37C in many areas through Monday.

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