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Dying winds help battle fires

SAN FRANCISCO — Easing winds gave California firefighters a break Tuesday as they battled a destructive wildfire that was driven by strong winds through wine country north of San Francisco and another rural blaze that killed three people.

Breezes replaced the powerful gusts that sent the Glass Fire raging through Napa and Sonoma counties Sunday and Monday, scorching more than 66 square miles (170 square kilometers).

At least 95 buildings have burned in wine country, including homes and winery installations. A wildfire burning farther north in rural Shasta County has destroyed another 146 buildings.

The fire in wine country pushed through brush that had not burned for a century, even though surrounding areas were incinerated in a series of blazes in recent years.

As the winds eased Monday evening, firefighters were feeling “much more confident,” said Ben Nicholls, a division chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

“We don’t have those critical burning conditions that we were experiencing those last two nights,” he said.

The Glass Fire in wine country is one of nearly 30 wildfires burning around California. The National Weather Service warned that hot, dry conditions with strong Santa Ana winds could continue posing a fire danger in Southern California through Tuesday afternoon.

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