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California wine country fire quadruples in size, more evacuations ordered

Sept 28 (Reuters) - A wildfire in northern California’s Napa Valley wine country more than quadrupled in size overnight to 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) as thousands of residents awoke to mandatory evacuation orders on Monday.

The blaze, since named the Glass Fire, ignited on Sunday morning near Calistoga about 60 miles (100 km) north of San Francisco and was fanned through the area’s famed vineyards by dry wind gusts. More than a thousand firefighters have struggled to contain the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

It was the latest inferno in a historically destructive year throughout the U.S. West. In California alone, wildfires so far have scorched more than 3.7 million acres, far exceeding any single year in state history. Since Aug. 15, fires in the state have killed 26 people and destroyed more than 7,000 structures. Climate change has contributed to wildfires’ growing intensity, scientists say.

Early on Monday, new evacuation orders were issued in Sonoma and Napa counties, including parts of the cities of Santa Rosa and St. Helena.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning through to the end of Monday, forecasting low humidity and gusts of wind up to 55 miles per hour (89 km per hour) through certain canyons.

The fire also prompted the evacuation of the 151-bed Adventist Health St. Helena hospital on Sunday for a second time in a few weeks after lightning-sparked blazes swept through the area in August. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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