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Sep 29, 9:37 PM EDT

California wildfire destroys 8 homes, injures firefighter

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AP Photo/Noah Berger

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MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) -- A wildfire in a mostly remote area of California's Santa Cruz Mountains has now destroyed eight homes and sent a firefighter to the hospital, officials said Thursday.

One firefighter was injured and hospitalized, but no details were given on his condition.

The blaze burning for three days had previously only burned one home. It's not clear whether the destruction of seven more houses is new or just newly discovered by firefighters surveying burned-out areas.

Despite the damage, cooler weather and additional firefighters had officials hopeful Thursday that the blaze would be contained in days.

Full containment was expected by Monday, though wind gusts of up to 35 mph forecast for Friday night could complicate the firefight, state fire Capt. Mike Perez said. The fire has burned 6 square miles and was threatening 325 structures. It was 34 percent contained.

Mandatory evacuations were lifted Wednesday for Santa Cruz County. But evacuation orders remained in effect for neighboring Santa Clara County, where most of the 300 threatened structures are located, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The blaze broke out Monday during a statewide heat wave that brought witheringly low humidity and temperatures in the upper 90s. A 10-degree drop in temperatures and increased humidity helped fire crews. The cooling trend was expected to last through the week.

It was among several blazes burning during a time of year when the drought-stricken state sees its largest and most damaging wildfires, state forestry officials said.

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