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Plumes of wildfire smoke rise as trees burn during the Dixie Fire near Susanville, California, on Wednesday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Two massive wildfires were threatening Northern California communities as a smaller blaze tore through a mobile home park amid gusty conditions late Wednesday, with much of the region under red flag warnings.

The latest: Fresh mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Susanville as the historic Dixie Fire closed in on the Lassen County town. Meanwhile, the monster Calder Fire continued to raze structures in the Sierra Nevada — including a church and a school, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The blaze also triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for communities in El Dorado County after showing "unprecedented" behavior.
  • In Lake County, a grass fire propelled by winds of up to 30 mph razed dozens of mobile homes as it tore through the community, injuring one person before firefighters managed to curb its spread, AP reports.

By the numbers: 104 large fires were burning across the U.S. Wednesday, with 11 in California.

  • The Dixie Fire, the second-largest wildfire on record in California, grew to 662,647 acres by Wednesday night and was 35% contained after burning for more than a month. It has destroyed 1,217 structures.
  • The uncontained Caldor Fire that's injured at least two people this week that's razed dozens of homes in and around Grizzly Flats and earlier Greenville had swelled to 62,586 acres as it continued to threaten communities overnight.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for El Dorado County Tuesday due to the Caldor blaze — which ignited Sunday about 60 miles east of Sacramento.

  • Smoke from this wildfire, along with the Dixie Fire and other blazes has triggered air quality advisories in portions of Central California.
  • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California's largest power company, shut off power to parts of 18 Northern California counties Tuesday night to reduce the risk of ignition from its equipment. The action affects some 51,000 customers.

Of note: Human-caused climate change has contributed to a prolonged, severe drought that has gripped California and other Western states and exacerbated wildfire activity.

  • The federal government formally declared a water shortage at Lake Mead on Monday for the first time since the nation's largest reservoir by volume was created in the 1930s, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

Go deeper: In photos: Where wildfires are blazing around the world

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Flood-ravaged Pacific Northwest hit by more record rainfall

Satellite images taken last Friday of flooding in the Sumas Prairie to the east of Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada, near the border with the U.S. Photo: Maxar Technologies

Rainfall records tumbled in Washington state on Thanksgiving night as the first of two atmospheric river events forecast for this week began threatening the Pacific Northwest, per the National Weather Service.

Why it matters: The region is still recovering from last week's atmospheric river that brought record rainfall, flooding and mudslides, with Washington and Canada's British Columbia particularly badly hit.

The SAT is going digital

A practice SAT. Photo: Alex Garcia/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The College Board announced Tuesday that the SAT will be delivered digitally in the U.S. in 2024.

Why it matters: The College Board said it's seeking to make the SAT "more relevant," as some colleges start to ditch the college admissions exam altogether.

2 hours ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.