LOS ANGELES • Thousands of firefighters are battling to contain wildfires in California that have forced the evacuation of thousands of homes and burned more than 49,000ha of land.
On Monday, they managed to bring the number of fires down from 21 to 18, but a new fire that erupted in Ventura county on Sunday was quickly dubbed the Chorro fire. The biggest fire, the Rocky fire, was sweeping through Colusa, Lake and Yolo counties north of Sacramento, the state capital.
More than 13,000 people have been forced to flee homes threatened by Rocky, Calfire spokesman Alisha Herring said. Only 12 per cent under control, Rocky has burned through more than 24,200ha, destroying 50 structures, about half of them homes, and threatening 6,000 more.
"It is the Rocky fire that continues to really be a fast-moving fire that definitely continues to challenge us today," another Calfire spokesman said on Monday.
Californian Governor Jerry Brown's office said 9,600 people are battling the fires.
Weather was the main culprit, with thousands of dry lightning strikes reported over the weekend. California is in the throes of a record-breaking drought, with much of the state completely parched. In areas where fires had been put out, charred cars were all that remained on some roads, and trees were left smouldering.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for northern California, cautioning that "extreme fire conditions are occurring or imminent".