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Powerful winds fuel fires, cause damage across California

December 22, 2011 |  4:54 pm
Click here to see more photos.
Powerful wind gusts sparked fires, downed trees and caused blackouts across California on Thursday.
In Southern California, wind gusts of up to 60 mph toppled several trucks in the Inland Empire, downed trees and caused power outages in parts of the San Gabriel Valley, Inland Empire and Orange County.
Wind gusts of up to 20 mph fueled a huge fire that damaged at least three buildings in San Francisco.

Crews battled the San Francisco blaze for more than two hours. About 2:30 p.m., firefighters re-entered the building where the fire started. All three floors of the building were ravaged by flames.

At least two people have been injured, San Francisco Fire Department Capt. Jeanne Seyler  said. One civilian was taken to the hospital due to smoke inhalation, and a firefighter was treated for burns to the neck.

PHOTOS: Wind driven fire in San Francisco

Neither's injuries were believed to be life-threatening.

Santa Ana winds stoked a wildfire in rural areas of Ventura County.

Officials say the fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon near the intersection of Foothill and Aliso Canyon roads, had grown as large as 20 acres.

“Right now the fire is in the brush,” Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said. “No structures have been threatened or damaged.”

About 100 firefighters are on the scene and are being assisted by two water-dropping helicopters, but Nash said the 15 to 20 mph winds remain a concern.

A small brush fire was also reported in Vallejo, near San Francisco.

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-- Matt Stevens, Abby Sewell and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A five-alarm fire burns on Pierce Street in the Western Addition section of San Francisco. Credit: Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times/MCT

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