Wednesday 22 January 2020

California fire kills one as heat stokes blazes in western states

Heat spreading from southern California into parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah threatened to worsen flames that have forced thousands to flee.

The Klamathon fire burns in Hornbrook (California Highway Patrol via AP)
The Klamathon fire burns in Hornbrook (California Highway Patrol via AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

A wildfire raging through drought-stricken timber and brush in northern California has killed one person and destroyed 40 buildings as it burned largely out of control, authorities said.

No other details were released about the death blamed on the fire that threatened 300 homes near Hornbook, a town of 250 people about 14 miles south of the Oregon border.

The so-called Klamathon Fire was one of dozens of blazes across the dry American West, fuelled by rising temperatures and gusty winds that are expected to last through the weekend.

The Klamathon Fire burns in Hornbrook (California Highway Patrol/AP)

Heat spreading from southern California into parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah threatened to worsen flames that have forced thousands of people to flee and destroyed hundreds of homes across the West.

A new blaze erupted on Friday night in Santa Barbara County, north west of Los Angeles. A house fire got out of control and spread into residential areas in the hills above Goleta, authorities said.

North-northwest winds were blowing the embers and flames downhill and the fire was about a mile from central Goleta, county fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said.

He told KNX-AM radio he had seen four or five buildings burn.

“It’s burning down toward the populated areas of Goleta where all the residences and businesses are,” Mr Zaniboni said. “We’re talking hundreds of homes.”

Mandatory evacuations were called for an area of about 1,500 people, authorities said.

People are trying to evacuate horses and other livestock from rural ranches, Mr Zaniboni added.

On the California-Oregon border, crews battled a fire that ignited on Thursday and moved swiftly through a region that is home to many retirees, said Ray Haupt, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

The deadly blaze is burning near the Oregon border (California Highway Patrol/AP)

“It moved so fast I’m not sure how much time lagged between the evacuation and when it hit Hornbrook,” he said. “It hit there pretty quick. We know we’ve lost homes and lots of structures, including livestock and horses as well.”

California governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, citing “extreme peril” to people and property.

Evacuations were called for Hornbrook and the tiny community of Hilt. The fire also prompted Oregon authorities to urge people to immediately evacuate an area near the town of Colestin.

Oregon authorities urged hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to avoid forests near the state line.

Officials were concerned people in remote areas cannot be reached in case they need to quickly evacuate.

Firefighters wait for water as they battle flames at the Alpine Oaks Estates mobile home park (Eduardo Contreras/San Diego Union-Tribune/AP)

The areas of concern include the Pacific Crest Trail, Mount Ashland and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Elsewhere in California, a massive blaze north west of Sacramento had destroyed nine homes, officials said. Firefighters are inspecting the fire zone which covers an area nearly three times the size of San Francisco.

The fire was partially contained, but crews struggled in steep, rugged terrain.

About 75 miles east of Los Angeles, a wildfire in the San Bernardino National Forest prompted mandatory evacuations for the entire community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes and 1,000 residents. The fire quickly grew to about 1.5 square miles.

In San Diego County, a wind-driven wildfire burned at least five homes and as many as a dozen in Alpine. The governor also declared a state of emergency for the county.

In the same county, a fire on Camp Pendleton Marine base prompted the evacuation of 750 homes.

PA Media

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