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This NOAA image obtained August 18, 2012 shows the smoky haze has lifted over Northern California, Nevada and Idaho, revealing the many fires afflicting the region in this latest image from the Suomi NPP satellite, taken on August 16, 2012.

This NOAA image obtained August 18, 2012 shows the smoky haze has lifted over Northern California, Nevada and Idaho, revealing the many fires afflicting the region in this latest image from the Suomi NPP satellite, taken on August 16, 2012.

A wildfire has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in northern region of the US state of California while hundreds of firefighters have been sent to protect homes and commercial buildings. The lightning-sparked wildfire that started on Saturday has also destroyed more than 12,000 acres (around 48.6 square km) of forest in northern California during the past three days. Although the blaze has yet to be contained, there are no reports of injuries or deaths. A mandatory evacuation was issued for several communities in the towns of Manton and Shingletown. Mary Anne Aldrich, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said on Sunday that the so-called Ponderosa fire has destroyed at least seven homes and is threatening about 3,000 more. Officials say about 1,000 firefighters, 20 water tenders and three helicopters have been dispatched to the region to contain the fire's growth. In the state of Idaho, the firefighters were also keeping up a battle to contain the flames that raged for a ninth day through rugged, sun-baked terrain in the Boise National Forest. DB/MA