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SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Animals from the Orange County Zoo are among evacuees returning home as crews get a handle on a Southern California wildfire that destroyed 14 buildings and damaged 22 others.

6:45 a.m.

Evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday for thousands of people in Anaheim, Orange and Tustin. And more than 100 animals — including small birds, mammals and reptiles — were returned to the zoo within Irvine Regional Park, where flames roared on Monday.

Zoo officials tell the Orange County Register that the remaining animals including bears and mountain lions will be brought back in the coming days.

The newspaper says the zoo had undergone an emergency drill a week before the fire, which helped the evacuation run as smoothly as possible.

gettyimages 859545442 California Zoo Animals Among Evacuees Returning

Smoke continues to rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cooler, more humid air is helping firefighters tame that blaze in northern Orange County.
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6:30 a.m.
A wildfire tearing through California’s wine country continues to expand unabated, prompting authorities to order more evacuations.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it ordered mandatory evacuations for several areas of Sonoma Valley after a blaze grew to 44 square miles.

After a day of cooler weather and calmer winds, officials say dangerous gusty winds will return to the region Wednesday afternoon, complicating firefighters’ efforts.

The blaze in Sonoma County is one of a series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday night and continue to burn with little to no containment. Seventeen people have died in the blazes, 11 of them in Sonoma County.

gettyimages 859872388 1 California Zoo Animals Among Evacuees Returning

A McDonald’s restaurant is seen after burning down in Santa Rosa, California, on October 10, 2017.
Firefighters encouraged by weakening winds were battling 17 large wildfires on Tuesday in California which have left at least 13 people dead, thousands homeless and ravaged the state’s famed wine country. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The fires have also left at least 180 people injured and have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses.
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12:00 a.m.
Jose Garnica worked for more than two decades to build up his dream home that was reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes by the deadly firestorm striking Northern California.
Garnica’s house was among more than 2,000 homes and business destroyed by the fires that have also killed 17 people.

He moved to the U.S. from Mexico more than 20 years ago, and after saving money from his steady job with a garbage company he fixed up his Santa Rosa house with new flooring and stainless steel appliances.

gettyimages 591894120 California Zoo Animals Among Evacuees Returning

WRIGHTWOOD, CA – AUGUST 18: A firefighting helicopter makes a drop as firefighters try to gain control of the fire above homes along Cajon Boulevard at the Blue Cut Fire on August 18, 2016 near Wrightwood, California.. An unknown number of homes and businesses have burned and more than 80,000 people were ordered to evacuate as the wildfire spreads beyond 30,000 acres and threatens to expand into the ski resort town of Wrightwood. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

All of it burned early Monday when the fires broke out. But Garnica says he’s still better off than when he came to America.

The fires have scorched large sections of the state’s wine country.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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