Tens of thousands evacuate as wildfires rage in California

Firefighters battling a wildfire in the hills of Canyon Country, north of Los Angeles, on Thursday. Around 40,000 people were told to flee the Tick Fire, which burned several homes and structures, and forced the closure of a major highway and some ro
Firefighters battling a wildfire in the hills of Canyon Country, north of Los Angeles, on Thursday. Around 40,000 people were told to flee the Tick Fire, which burned several homes and structures, and forced the closure of a major highway and some roads. There were no immediate reports of injuries. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES • California firefighters battled through the night to contain a fast-moving wildfire driven by high winds that was threatening to engulf thousands of buildings.

Around 40,000 people were told to flee the Tick Fire, which was raging across 1,600ha just north of Los Angeles.

The blaze broke out on Thursday afternoon, burning several homes and structures and forcing the closure of a major highway and a number of roads, as some 500 firefighters, backed by air tankers and helicopters, battled the flames.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

"We are urging everybody to evacuate at this time," a fire department spokesman said.

The fire erupted as much of the state was under a red-flag warning because of gusty winds, high temperatures and low humidity, which make a perfect condition for wildfires.

In northern California wine country, some 2,000 people were ordered to evacuate after a brush fire erupted late on Wednesday, quickly growing into a 6,475ha inferno, California fire officials said.

About 500 responders battled the fire fed by wind gusts topping 110kmh.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the community of Geyserville and nearby vineyards after the fire started in a mountainous area and quickly spread, crossing a highway and moving towards homes, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said.

"If you're in Geyserville, leave now," the sheriff's office advised, citing an extraordinary threat to life and property.

Winds out of the north were driving the fire as firefighters struggled to save homes.

By early Thursday evening, the fire was 5 per cent contained and several structures had burned, fire officials said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2019, with the headline 'Tens of thousands evacuate as wildfires rage in California'. Print Edition | Subscribe