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MANTON, CA (AP) - Firefighters in Northern California are struggling to gain control of a growing wildfire that has destroyed at least seven homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate.

State officials say the fire that started Saturday has consumed nearly 19 square miles near the towns of Manton, Shingletown and Viola near the border of Tehama and Shasta counties. It was only about 5 percent contained.

A fire spokesman says the Ponderosa Fire threatens at least 3,000 homes and more than 300 other structures.

The blaze is burning in thick forests about 170 miles north of Sacramento. It started after the area was hit by a series of lightning strikes.

More than 1,800 firefighters are battling the blaze, one of many wildfires burning across California and the West.

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