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A Northern California wildfire burning for more than three weeks roared to life after being stoked by high winds.

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California wildfire burning for more than three weeks roared to life after being stoked by high winds, spreading at a ferocious rate across an estimated 25 miles (40 kilometers) of mountainous terrain and parched foothills.

As thick smoke choked the air Wednesday and cast an eerie orange hue across much of the region, a number of small communities near Oroville were ordered to evacuate. The fire even threatened the town of Paradise that was devastated just two years ago by the deadliest blaze in state history, causing a panic that led to a traffic jam as residents tried to escape.

More evacuation orders and warnings were added in northern California after winds caused the Bear Fire to flare up Tuesday.
More evacuation orders and warnings were added in northern California after winds caused the Bear Fire to flare up Tuesday. (Source: KCRA/CNN)

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the fire had conservatively burned about 400 square miles (1,036 square kilometers) in 24 hours.

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