Erratic winds challenge firefighters battling two major California blazes

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MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, Calif. (AP) — A massive wildfire burning out of control in California’s Mojave National Preserve was spreading rapidly amid erratic winds, while firefighters reported progress against another major blaze to the southwest that prompted evacuations.

The York Fire that erupted Friday near the remote Caruthers Canyon area of the vast wildland preserve crossed the state line into Nevada on Sunday and sent smoke further east into the Las Vegas Valley.

Wind-driven flames 20 feet (6 meters) high in some spots charred more than 110 square miles (284 square kilometers) of desert scrub, juniper and Joshua tree woodland, according to an incident update. There was zero containment.

“The dry fuel acts as a ready ignition source, and when paired with those weather conditions it resulted in long-distance fire run and high flames, leading to extreme fire behavior,” the update said. No structures were threatened.

To the southwest, the Bonny Fire was holding steady at about 3.4 square miles (8.8 square kilometers) in rugged hills of Riverside County. More than 1,300 people were ordered to evacuate their homes Saturday near the community of Aguanga that is home to horse ranches and wineries.

Gusty winds and the chance of thunderstorms into Monday will heighten the risk of renewed growth, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.

One firefighter was injured in the blaze, which was 5% contained.

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