Flames engulfed a steep Southern California hillside as crews worked to clear around 10,000 homes by today as a wildfire raged through tinder-dry canyons.
The fire had destroyed homes in northern Los Angeles County, gaining a ferocious new power two days after it broke out, sending columns of smoke into the air and planes making drops on it had to be grounded for part of the day yesterday.
According to fire officials, they had ordered around 20,000 residents to leave their homes.
"For this time of year, it's the most extreme fire behaviour I've seen in my 32-year career," Associated Press said.
Firefighters used foam to extinguish flames at homed at the end of Iron Canyon in Santa Clarita, California, yesterday. According to authorities 18 homes had been destroyed and an additional 1,500 were threatened as crews battled a massive wildfire in wooded canyons north of Los Angeles.
The blaze charred over 34 square miles of dry brush withered by days of triple-digit heat on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. Approximately only 10 per cent of the blaze was contained yesterday.
According officials late yesterday, the blaze had scorched across at least 51 square miles of brush north of Los Angeles but that number could increase today when better assessment was made at daylight.
According to authorities, the so-called Sand Fire grew from 22,000 acres, over 34 square miles (88 square km), a day earlier, helped by high winds and dry conditions after years of drought.
"This is the fifth year of an ongoing drought, so we have very extreme fire behaviour," Osby said at a news conference yesterday. "These are not normal times."
A 10,262-acre fire was also burning in a coastal area of Monterey county, 300 miles northwest of Santa Clarita, prompting widening of evacuation orders to several communities on Sunday, according to a Cal Fire spokeswoman.