LOS ANGELES • Hundreds were ordered to evacuate from a fast-moving wildfire burning through steep terrain near California's central coast after searing temperatures and parched land fuelled dozens of blazes in the West and South-west of the United States.
The so-called Alamo Fire, feeding on bone-dry vegetation, nearly tripled in size last Saturday to about 7,700ha on the border between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. More than 1,000 firefighters have been fighting the blaze that started last Thursday and was 10 per cent contained as of Saturday afternoon, officials said.
There were 40 uncontained large US wildfires last Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
One of the largest was the Truckee Fire in Nevada, which was about 40,000ha in size, according to the InciWeb tracking service. There have been no immediate reports of fire-related deaths.
No major injuries have been reported in California's Alamo Fire, according to Santa Barbara County spokesman Gina DePinto. She said the authorities are working to evacuate people from the blaze, aiming to stop it from reaching wineries to the south and electric transmission lines to the south-east.
Heavy rainfall in parts of the West over the winter and spring helped delay the onset of the fire season, but also spurred the growth of dense vegetation that has dried out and become highly combustible in summertime heat.
Temperatures in the Southern Californian resort city of Palm Springs climbed to 50 deg C last Friday, breaking a record high for that date set in 1976, according to the National Weather Service.
The all-time recorded high was 50.5 deg C, local news reports said.
Downtown Los Angeles, usually cooler than other parts of the city, set a record for the date at 36 deg C.