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Families in US flee as gusts fan wildfire

FAMILIES were forced to flee as a wildfire fanned by gusty winds raged along the fringes of Southern California.

Homes and a university were evacuated as recreational vehicles were set ablaze.

The fire erupted during morning rush hour along a major highway about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was quickly spread by the winds, which also pushed other damaging blazes across the region.

Flames quickly moved down slopes, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. More than 12sqm were charred, and the fire was about 10pc contained.

"We know the fire is bigger than that, but it's in some difficult terrain so it's hard to know," said fire spokesman Bill Nash.

Recreational vehicles in a car park was destroyed as flames moved close to a mobile home park.

About 2,000 homes were threatened by flames and 15 sustained damage, but none was destroyed, officials said.

No firefighter injuries were reported.

Fire officials said a hazardous materials team will deal with a store of highly toxic pesticides that caught fire at a Laguna Farms property, according to sources. Residents were warned to stay out of the smoke as much as possible.