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Paradise regained? Fire crews gaining on California blaze

  • Story Highlights
  • Fire near town of Paradise is 49 percent contained, officials say
  • Firefighters face extreme temperatures, gusty winds, again on Thursday
  • 8,000 people have evacuated Paradise, official says; local hospital evacuated
  • Across California, fires have burned almost 700,000 acres in past few weeks
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(CNN) -- Firefighters were making progress Thursday battling wildfires that charred 49,000 acres in Northern California and caused thousands to evacuate, a state fire official said.

They had contained about half of a fire near the town of Paradise in Butte County by Thursday morning, said Fred Orsborn of Cal Fire, the state fire agency.

That was an improvement over assessments Wednesday, when a town official said the firefighters did not "have much containment."

The official also said Wednesday that 14,000 residents had been evacuated from Paradise, which has a population of about 26,000 people. Video Watch flames devour forest »

About 2,880 firefighters battling fires in Butte County, north of Sacramento, faced the possibility of triple-digit temperatures again Thursday, forecasters said. iReport.com: View, share your photos, video and stories

Officials also worried that morning winds could pick up to more than 30 mph and add life to the blaze near Paradise, which has already torched 50 homes.

Orsborn said 8,000 residents had left the town, and 8,000 more were in danger of an evacuation. See where the fires are burning »

Feather River Hospital in Paradise was evacuated Wednesday.

Paradise, located about 90 miles north of Sacramento, is just one the communities in Butte County fighting fires.

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About 10,000 people have been evacuated in the county and several shelters have been established, Orsborn said.

Across the state, 1,781 wildfires have burned more than 688,400 acres in the last few weeks. There were 322 active fires burning Thursday, according to Cal Fire.

CNN's Karl Zimmerman contributed to this report.

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