SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Three massive wildfires chewed through parched Northern California landscape as firefighters raced to dig breaks and make other preparations ahead of a frightening weather system.

High winds were expected late Sunday and Monday, along with more of the lightning that sparked the huge blazes and scores of other fires around the state, putting nearly a quarter-million people under evacuation orders and warnings.

At the CZU Lightning Complex fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. south of San Francisco, authorities said their effort was hindered by people who refused to heed evacuation orders and those who were using the chaos to steal.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said 100 officers were patrolling.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app