LOS ANGELES • Wind-driven wildfires burned largely uncontrolled in tinder-dry California as firefighters battled blazes threatening thousands of homes in a race against time with even stronger gusts expected.
Thousands of residents have already fled, and hundreds of thousands of others were left in the dark with power companies cutting off electricity to try to prevent more fires being sparked by snapped cabling.
"I know this moment generates a tremendous amount of anxiety," California Governor Gavin Newsom said about the two major blazes burning at opposite ends of the state.
The latest fire broke out near the Getty Centre museum, housing priceless artworks, on the west side of Los Angeles, hundreds of kilometres from where crews were fighting the biggest and most destructive fire, the Kincade, north of San Francisco.
Los Angeles Lakers basketball great LeBron James, Terminator actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as other celebrities, said on Twitter that they had been forced to leave their homes.
Weather forecasters are saying that there could be worse to come.
"The worst of this (weather) is coming later today and tonight," Mr Marc Chenard, a forecaster with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Centre, said yesterday.
The so-called Getty fire covered more than 240ha in the scrub-covered hills around Interstate 405, near some of the city's most expensive homes.
Los Angeles fire chief Ralph Terrazas said his firefighters had told him that they were overwhelmed in the early hours of the Getty fire.
"They had to make some tough decisions on which houses they were able to protect," he added.