US & Canada

Hundreds evacuated in California wildfires

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Media captionAircraft are being used to drop fire retardant over burning areas in an attempt to stop fires spreading

Two wildfires in California have forced hundreds of people to evacuate, including one lakeside town where almost two dozen buildings burned down.

Officials evacuated 1,000 residents out of about 400 homes in Oakhurst, Madera County Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.

The fire started near Yosemite National Park and quickly burned at least 320 acres (130ha).

Many of the burnt structures were believed to be homes.

Image copyright AP
Image copyright AP
Image caption Many of the buildings burnt in Oakhurst were homes

One neighbourhood was hit particularly hard, with the fire bearing down as residents evacuated.

"My wife and I looked back and saw our backyard was burning," Joe Cunningham told the Fresno Bee. "So we didn't take much time. She drove one car, I drove the other car, and we just left."

The fire was 20% contained by Monday.

Months of drought in California have contributed to the scourge of fire this year.

Further north in California, a wildfire about 60 miles (97km) east of Sacramento, forced the evacuation of more than 600 homes, according to El Dorado County sheriff's officials.

The blaze was originally in a remote area but reached a canyon full of thick, dry brush. It grew by about 900 acres overnight to a total of 3,900 acres, about six square miles. That fire was 10% contained.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Joe Cunningham looks at the destruction near his home
Image copyright AP