LOWER LAKE, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking his aides to stay in close touch with California’s governor and other local officials as firefighters tackle the Rocky Fire.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama was briefed about the wildfire in the Lower Lake area by his homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco. He says Obama is extending his gratitude to the men and women battling the fire and that the White House will be closely monitoring the situation.

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The White House says the National Preparedness Level was raised on Monday to Level 4, which occurs when three or more regions have incidents requiring additional resources.

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On Monday night, some of the 13,000 people urged to flee their residences spent what may be just one of many nights in evacuation shelters.

The blaze about 100 miles north of San Francisco grew to more than 101 square miles Tuesday as it chewed through drought-withered brush that has not burned in years.

More than 3,000 firefighters tried to stand their ground against the fire that jumped a highway that had served as a containment line and grew by several square miles despite cooler weather and higher humidity. Its rapid growth caught firefighters off guard and shocked residents.

Vicki Estrella, who has lived in the area for 22 years, stayed at a Red Cross shelter at Middletown High School with her husband and their dog.

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“It’s amazing the way that thing spread,” Estrella said. “There was smoke 300 feet in the air.”

Cooler weather Tuesday is helping crews build a buffer between the flames and some of the 6,900 homes it threatens. Despite the fire’s growth, no additional homes were consumed outside the two dozen already destroyed.

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More than 13,000 people have been forced to evacuate or warned to leave since the blaze ignited Wednesday.

Many people are aiding evacuees, handing out items such as pillows, apples and piles of French toast at a local Moose Lodge.

Tabetha Atwood, owner of Our Happy Tails Etc., a dog bakery in Clearlake, helped match wayward dogs with their owners Tuesday. She also had dog treats on hand for folks who came by with their pets.

“These are our friends, our family and our neighbors,” she said.

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