BECKWOURTH, Plumas County (AP) — Flames threatening campgrounds and cabins prompted evacuations and closed off a swath of Northern California forest as the state prepared for another weekend of dry, scorching weather and the continuing threat of wildfires.

Hundreds of firefighters aided by aircraft were fighting the Beckwourth Complex, two blazes sparked by lightning that were carving their way through the eastern edge of the million-acre Plumas National Forest in the northern Sierra Nevada near the Nevada state line.

Campgrounds and homes around Frenchman Lake were under evacuation orders Friday and a nearly 200-square-mile (518-square-kilometer) area of the forest was closed because of the danger, fire information officer Pandora Valle said.

After a day and night of explosive growth, the fire covered more than 38 square miles (98 square kilometers) at midmorning Friday, causing containment to drop to 11%.

The flames were burning through pine, fir and chaparral turned bone-dry by low humidity and high temperatures, while ridgetop winds and afternoon gusts of up to 35 mph were “really pushing” the flames at times, Valle said.

The fire was one of several burning in the north, where several other large blazes destroyed dozens of homes in recent days.

In the region between the Oregon border and the northern end of the Central Valley, the big Lava and Tennant fires were significantly contained and progress was reported at the Salt Fire as containment improved to 45%. The Salt Fire has burned 27 homes and 14 outbuildings. The Lava Fire destroyed 20 structures, including 13 homes, and damaged two structures. The Tennant Fire destroyed five buildings, including two homes.

The number of wildfires and amount of land burned in parched California so far this year greatly exceed totals for the same period in the disastrous wildfire year of 2020. Between Jan. 1 and July 4, there were 4,599 fires that scorched nearly 115 square miles (297 square kilometers), according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In the same time frame last year, there were 3,847 fires that blackened 48.6 square miles (126 square kilometers).

Climate change is considered a “key driver” of a trend that is creating “longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire,” the agency said recently.

Meanwhile, forecasters warned that much of California will see dangerously hot weekend weather, with highs in triple digits in the Central Valley, mountains, deserts and other inland areas because of strengthening high pressure over the state. Heat warnings did not include major coastal populations.

The National Weather Service said Death Valley could reach a staggering 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius).

California’s power grid operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to avoid possible disruptions and rolling blackouts. Flex Alerts call for consumers to voluntarily conserve electricity by reducing the use of power-hungry appliances such as washers and keeping the thermostat higher during crucial evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available.

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