Monday, February 19, 2018 - 13:45

BISHOP, Calif. (AP) —

A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, but officials said they made some gains after the flames exploded in size.

The blaze scorched 3½ square miles of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting.

Officials ended most evacuations that were ordered near the town but warned that strong winds were expected in the area and urged residents to remain vigilant.

It comes as California has seen some record-high temperatures and little rain after emerging from a five-year drought, helping fuel some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history late last year. U.S. drought monitors this month declared parts of Southern California back in severe drought.

In the most recent fire, several communities and campgrounds in the Pleasant Valley Reservoir area had been told to leave, said Cathey Mattingly, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

It's not clear how many people had to evacuate after the blaze started Sunday, Inyo County sheriff's spokeswoman Carma Roper said. But hundreds of structures were threatened, including the Laws Railroad Museum, a railroad station built in the 1880s, Mattingly said.

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