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Thousands flee homes as huge wildfire rages near Los Angeles

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Inferno: A firefighter battles the blaze to the east of Los Angeles. Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Inferno: A firefighter battles the blaze to the east of Los Angeles. Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

AP

Inferno: A firefighter battles the blaze to the east of Los Angeles. Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

A huge wildfire in mountains east of Los Angeles that is Southern California's biggest blaze so far this year was still raging yesterday, with thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes.

The blaze in Riverside County, among several wildfires across California, had consumed more than 106kmsq of dry brush and timber since it broke out on Friday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of yesterday morning, it was just 5pc contained and the fire along with coronavirus precautions made for added stress at an evacuation centre, said John Medina, an American Red Cross spokesman.

Volunteers used to "close contact" with evacuees have had to adjust their approach during a time of social distancing, Mr Medina said.

"I mean, that's part of the recovery of a disaster, is that you have to show warmth and love and caring. And that's hard when you're standing six feet away. So that's the biggest challenge," Mr Medina told KESQ-TV.

Bill Boehm helped his mother evacuate her home with her three horses and said the pandemic hasn't stopped people from coming together to assist each other.

"Everyone seemed to be wearing masks and such, so that type of precaution was still going on," Mr Boehm told the news station.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blaze that began as two adjacent fires in Cherry Valley, a rural area near the city of Beaumont, about 137km east of downtown Los Angeles.

Flames raced along brushy ridge tops and came close to houses. One home and two outbuildings were destroyed, California fire officials said.

In Northern California, evacuations were ordered after a wildfire that sparked Sunday afternoon spread quickly and burned near homes near the East Park Reservoir in Colusa County.

Irish Independent