• Saturday, December 27, 2014

Freedom in the air

California hit by raging wildfires

BBC Online
Smoking can be seen billowing above the California skyline
Smoking can be seen billowing above the California skyline

Two fast-moving wildfires in California have destroyed 10 homes and have forced the evacuation of hundreds more, US officials say.

In the Sacramento region, a fire has spread to cover an area of about 4,000 acres, while another blaze threatens homes around Yosemite National Park.

The Sacramento fire is around 35% contained, officials told local media.

Separately a man in his 20s died and others were hurt in a lightning strike in a rare summer storm in Los Angeles.

Most of the victims were hit on a beach in Los Angeles, though one golfer was also struck on nearby Catalina island.

HOMES EVACUATED

Months of drought have caused more fires in California this year - some 1,400, twice the usual number.

The Sacramento fire in the north of the state has doubled in size since it broke out on Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported officials as saying.

About 515 homes were evacuated as the blaze tore its way through drought-hit grassland.

The fire could grow again on Sunday as firefighters brace for high winds and temperatures in the drought-stricken region, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynn Tolmachoff told the AP news agency.

"All of the vegetation in the area is struggling. It's burning very easily,'' Tolmachoff said. "It causes the fire to be a lot hotter and to spread more easily.''

Nearly 1,500 fire fighters and aircraft that included a DC-10 air tanker are battling the blaze, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and reduced air quality in the Sacramento area.

Officials at dusk on Saturday said that cooler weather and less wind had brought some respite.

Meanwhile a 500-acre fire that started on Saturday afternoon is threatening homes in Yosemite.

Evacuations are reported to have been ordered in Foresta, a community of about 45 homes inside the national park where many employees of the park live.

Published: 12:03 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

Last modified: 10:18 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

TAGS: California wildfire Yosemite National Park

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