Firefighters were still trying to get a handle on a stubborn wildfire that has scorched more than 31 square miles and threatened 4,600 structures. Lighter winds were expected to pick up Friday evening and possibly push the flames closer to Paradise, a town of about 30,000 residents just north of Sacramento. Nearly 9,000 people were forced to flee from their homes in Paradise early Friday. Over the past few days, hot temperatures, steady winds and dry vegetation have fueled a series of destructive blazes in the northern heartland of California. More than 1,500 residents of Bonny Doon, a heavily forested town about 10 miles northwest of Santa Cruz, have been told to leave their homes as well.
North Carolina issued an air quality advisory for Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham through Friday afternoon after smoke from a wildfire burning in a wildlife refuge in Hyde County drifted westward. The lightning-sparked blaze has burned more than 60 square miles in and around the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge, and was only 40 percent contained by Friday evening.