Wildfires threaten homes in Central Valley, on Central Coast
BIG SUR, Calif. — A surging wildfire that broke out over the weekend in California's Central Valley damaged homes and forced hundreds of evacuations, while a 10-day-old blaze on the Central Coast kept growing and causing problems for firefighters and displaced residents.
The newer blaze south of the town of Prather about 30 miles northeast of Fresno had damaged some of the 200 evacuated homes in the area, but it wasn't yet clear how many, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday.
The fatal blaze north of Big Sur grew Sunday to 62.5 square miles, state fire officials said.
The wildfire has destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings and is threatening 2,000 more structures. It was 18 percent contained Sunday morning.
More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the wildfire that killed a bulldozer operator working the fire line.
The blaze, about the size of San Francisco, has also scared away tourists who are cancelling bookings after fire officials warned that crews will likely be battling a wildfire raging in steep, forested ridges just to the north for another month.
In Central California, the fast-moving fire is being fueled by hundreds of dead trees amid triple-digit temperatures and single-digit humidity that are expected to last for several days. Residents of the rural area surrounded by rolling hills told reporters they scrambled to evacuate with their animals as the wind-driven blaze swept through dry slopes.
"We watched it explode, coming across Old Millerton Road, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger," resident Dana Bays told KFSN-TV.
The nearly 3-square mile wildfire started Saturday afternoon. It was 5 percent contained Sunday, Cal Fire said.
Highway 168, closed from Millerton Road to Auberry Road in Prather, reopened Sunday, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said.
On the outskirts of Los Angeles, crews had nearly surrounded a 65-square-mile blaze that killed one man and destroyed 18 homes. That fire was 93 percent contained Sunday, nine days after it broke out in suburban Santa Clarita and spread into the mountainous Angeles National Forest, officials said. Authorities have not determined the cause.
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