AP PHOTOS: Wildfires race through dry, windy California

Over the last month, California wildfires have chased thousands of families from their homes, destroyed more than 3,600 buildings, blackened huge expanses of land and killed 12 people.

In all, more than two dozen major fires are burning around the state, some of them among the largest in recent California history.

Feeding off strong winds and dry brush, the fast-growing blazes have chewed through old-growth redwoods and chaparral and forced evacuations in wine country north of San Francisco and along the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Photos from The Associated Press show the flames exploding from trees and bushes, reaching out to lick vehicles, firefighters and homes. Drifting smoke chokes much of the state and fills the sky with an eerie orange glow.

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In parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Valley, the smoke blocked out so much sunlight that the temperature dropped by 20 to 30 degrees Wednesday over the previous day, according to the National Weather Service.

Wildfires are also burning in Oregon and Washington state.

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