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News Wrap: Wildfires scorch hundreds of homes in Northern California

In our news wrap Monday, two wildfires swept across Northern California, destroying at least 400 homes and killing one. Also, in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters stormed a prison with a car bomb, allowing 355 prisoners to escape.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    A firestorm roared across Northern California today, leaving at least 400 homes in ruins and one person dead. The Valley Fire has swept across 95 square miles north of the Napa Valley region. And southeast of Sacramento, the Butte Fire has burned another 135 homes. Between them, the two fires have forced 23,000 people out of their homes, and left crews struggling to hold the line.

    Middletown, California was an ashy, gray ghost town today. The Valley Fire that exploded over the weekend didn't discriminate. Cars, homes, parking structures all burned to a crisp.

  • WOMAN:

    It was a wall of fire behind us when we left, scariest thing ever. I — I am still in shock.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    That wall of fire moved down from the mountains on Saturday afternoon and burned out of control in all directions. More than 1,400 firefighters faced the worst possible conditions: a brutal drought that's has turned trees and brush into tinderboxes, combined with blistering heat and high winds.

    GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), California: This is damn serious stuff. Firefighters have to be careful, but so do people who live out in their cabins or their homes. They have to leave when they get the word. This is not just this year. This is the future from now on. It's going to get worse.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The area is full of horse farms. And many of the animals were left behind, as owners fled with little warning.

    MARK GHILARDUCCI, Director, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services: In the case of the Valley Fire, we have roughly 13,000 individuals that have been displaced. Up on the Butte Fire, we have at least 10,000 that have been displaced. These communities still are in an active firefight.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Not quite 200 miles away, the Butte Fire flared up last Wednesday and has burned across 110 square miles, and scores more homes. It's 30 percent contained. Firefighters hope for help from the weather as a low-pressure system moves in and possibly brings showers in the next few days.

    In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters stormed a prison, allowing 355 prisoners to escape. A suicide car bomber breached the main gate of the facility in Ghazni, and Taliban fighters attacked troops who tried to rush in to help. At least four guards and four militants were killed.

    Security forces in Egypt attacked a convoy of Mexican tourists today, killing a dozen people and wounding 10. It happened near an oasis in Egypt's Western Desert. The convoy was hit by air and ground fire. Officials said a military and police force had been chasing Islamist militants, and mistook the target — the tourists, that is, for their target. Mexico condemned the attack and called for a full investigation.

    There's been another political change down under. Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott was ousted today by members of his own party amid falling support and worries about the economy. Instead, they chose Malcolm Turnbull as the new prime minister, the country's fourth leader in just over two years.

  • MALCOLM TURNBULL, Prime Minister-Elect, Australia:

    The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We cannot be defensive. We cannot future-proof ourselves. We have to recognize that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility and change is our friend, if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Abbott drew international attention last year with a drive to repeal Australia's carbon tax and instead pay industry to operate more cleanly. Turnbull gave no indication that he will seek to change that policy.

    Back in this country, a judge in South Carolina refused bond for Michael Slager, a former policeman accused of murdering an unarmed suspect. Slager faces a murder charge in the death of Walter Scott. Video showed him firing eight times after Scott ran from a traffic stop. Slager wanted to be released from jail pending his trial.

    Kim Davis returned to work as Rowan County clerk in Kentucky. She spent five days in jail for refusing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, citing her religious beliefs. Today, deputies in her office went ahead and issued licenses, and Davis didn't interfere. She said an impossible choice had been forced on her.

  • KIM DAVIS, Rowan County Clerk:

    I don't want to have this conflict, I don't want to be in the spotlight, and I certainly don't want to be a whipping post. I am no hero. I am just a person who has been transformed by the grace of God and who wants to work and be with my family. I just want to serve my neighbors quietly without violating my conscience.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Davis and her lawyers argue the licenses will not be valid without her signature. But Kentucky's governor, attorney general and the county attorney say they are.

    And on Wall Street today, stocks weren't able to hold on to early gains, in the face of more signs of slowing growth in China. Instead, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 62 points to close at 16370. The Nasdaq fell 16 points. And the S&P 500 dropped eight.

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