1,000 homes threatened by Northern California wildfire

Story highlights

  • Applegate Fire in Placer County, California, has burned 420 acres, is 20% contained
  • Authorities issue mandatory evacuations for hundreds of "primary residences" in the area
  • Fire spokesman: "We do not have containment on the lines that could affect structures"
  • The area, like most of California, is experiencing "exceptional drought"

(CNN)Mandatory evacuations were in effect overnight for those in danger because of a Northern California wildfire, which has already destroyed five homes and is threatening 1,000 more, a state fire spokesman said.

The Applegate Fire -- centered in Placer County, about 40 miles northeast up Interstate 80 from Sacramento -- had burned 420 acres and was 20% contained as of late Thursday afternoon, according to Cal Fire's website.
It is not expected to abate much until at least Friday.
    "We do not have containment on the lines that could affect structures, and we have downed power lines," Cal Fire spokeswoman Joann Cartoscelli said, explaining why the evacuations will continue through the night. "We don't want to put firefighters or the public at risk."
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    Five homes in the small community of Applegate have been destroyed, and many more are at risk.
    That's why evacuation orders have gone out to those living on dozens of roads in the area, and three evacuation shelters -- two in Auburn and one in Colfax -- have been set for those with nowhere else to go. Cartoscelli said the threatened residences are "primary residences, not vacation homes."
    The blaze has also affected I-80, which had one lane open eastbound in the hardest hit area as of late Thursday afternoon.
    According to Cal Fire, more than 1,200 personnel are devoted to fighting the blaze. They have a lot of tools at their disposal, including 128 fire engines, 18 dozers and seven helicopters.
    Those in the affected area should see sunny skies, a high temperature of 79 degrees and likely shifting winds of 5 to 7 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
    Placer County is also in the middle of a major drought, which often means more dry, incendiary material to fuel a wildfire. That's true for much of California, with U.S. Drought Monitor showing that more than half the state -- including the location of the Applegate Fire -- is experiencing "exceptional drought."