PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Strong, erratic winds that had been complicating efforts to fight wildfires in northern California calmed down Friday, but firefighters were still struggling to get the upper hand on one stubborn fire that scorched more than 31 square miles and destroyed at least 40 homes.

The fire was the most dangerous of northern California's many wildfires because it was moving toward the town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of Sacramento, said Ruben Grijalva, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Officials ordered precautionary evacuations for 4,500 of the town's 30,000 residents. About 9,000 residents evacuated the area a day earlier, but officials had reopened roads to some of those homes Friday.

One elderly woman, whose identity was not immediately released, suffered a heart attack during the evacuation and died, Grijalva said.