Firefighters struggled overnight to halt the spread of wildfires known to have killed 23 people in North California, preparing for winds to shift after one town threatened by flames evacuated all residents.
The edge of the deadly Tubbs fire was less than two miles (3km) from Calistoga, a Napa Valley community whose 5,000 residents left their homes on Wednesday.
Whether the town burns "is going to depend on the wind," its Fire Chief Steve Campbell told Reuters early yesterday. "High winds are predicted, but we have not received them yet."
Tubbs is one of nearly two dozen fires spanning eight counties that, raging largely unchecked since igniting on Sunday, have left hundreds of residents unaccounted for.
They have also charred around 170,000 acres of land and destroyed some 3,500 buildings since.
While their cause has not been conclusively determined, they are thought to have been sparked by power lines toppled by gale force winds, and fanned by hot, dry "Diablo" winds that blew into northern California toward the Pacific.
The 23 recorded deaths make the fires the deadliest in the state since 1991.