California wildfire spreads quickly; thousands evacuated

Image courtesy Tommy Davis

Image courtesy Tommy Davis

Then a few miles to the north, the Vandergrift Fire has burned at least 330 acres and forced the evacuation of about 750 homes from the sprawling Marine Base Camp Pendleton, officials said.

A fast-spreading wildfire in California's Siskiyou County sparked on Thursday has caused the closure of Interstate 5 between Yreka, California and Ashland, Oregon, and prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency as the blaze has consumed 5,000 acres so far.

The state's latest fire broke out Friday in San Diego County.

At a Red Cross shelter, Ben Stanfill told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he and other relatives helped evacuate his mother's house, even though it wasn't in a mandatory evacuation area.

Video footage showed firefighters battling fires at several homes, as Santa Barbara County authorities said at least 2,200 residents were evacuated and 2,000 were without power, according to a Twitter posting.

Hundreds of firefighters, from Santa Barbara County and throughout the region, including San Luis Obispo County, are on scene to fight the fire, along with more than 30 engines and support aircraft.

The City of Medford has prepared a web page with updates on air quality, fire risk and restrictions. County 911 lines were jammed with calls, and emergency officials said they contacted 1,200 lines to urge evacuations.

Some 3,660 firefighters faced with inaccessible terrain, high temperatures and low humidity, were battling the fire, which was only 48 percent contained.

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The blaze destroyed an unknown number of structures and forced residents in the small communities of Hornbrook, Hilt and Colestein Valley to flee as flames crossed Interstate 5 near the California and OR border, local media reported.

The weather will become hotter and drier into the weekend, Cal Fire warned.

The County also requests that residents only call 911 if there is an emergency, as the lines are now "jammed up".

Record-breaking heat contributed to the danger this past week.

"Folks certainly should be aware of fires around them and what's going on", he adds.

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"Extreme heat can be risky - especially for young people and seniors", said Mayor Garcetti in the statement. "When temperatures rise this high, our libraries, recreation centers, and senior centers give Angelenos who need to escape the heat a friendly, welcoming, safe place to stay cool and healthy".

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