Lightning-sparked wildfires in Northern California exploded in size on Friday to become some of the largest in state history, forcing thousands to flee and destroying hundreds of homes and other structures as reinforcements began arriving to help weary firefighters. More than 12,000 firefighters aided by helicopters and air tankers are battling wildfires throughout California. Three groups of fires, called complexes, burning north, east and south of San Francisco have together scorched 991 square miles (2,566 square kilometers), destroyed more than 500 structures and killed five people. At least 100,000 people are under evacuation orders. The number of personnel assigned to the sprawling LNU Complex – a cluster of blazes burning in the heart of wine country north of San Francisco – doubled to more than 1,000 firefighters Friday, Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nicholls said. "I'm happy to say there are resources all around the fire today. We have engines on all four sides of it working hand-in-hand with the bulldozers to start containing this fire, putting it to bed," Mr Nicholls said. Fire crews with help from "copious amounts of fixed-wing aircraft" were working on Friday to stop a large blaze from reaching communities in the West Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, he said.
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