US & Canada

California wildfires: Hundreds flee homes near Los Angeles

Media captionFirefighters continue to tackle the blaze, near Los Angeles

Fast-moving wildfires have forced hundreds of people to leave their homes in mountains north of Los Angeles, California, the authorities say.

The fires had covered an area of 20,000 acres by Saturday evening, sending a pall of smoke south across parts of Los Angeles County.

About 300 people have been evacuated near the city of Santa Clarita.

Public swimming pools in Pasadena and Glendale closed because of smoke and falling ash.

The fires are being driven by high temperatures and strong winds, as forecasters warn the conditions are set to continue.

The wildfires, known as the Sand Fire, broke out on Friday afternoon in the Sand Canyon area near Santa Clarita. Winds quickly fanned them towards the Angeles National Forest.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Smoke can be seen from Los Angeles International Airport

About 900 firefighters are battling the flames, helped by helicopters and aeroplanes dumping water and fire retardant.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp said that about 1,000 homes were currently in danger but if the situation worsened, up to 45,000 homes, mostly in the San Fernando Valley, could be at risk.

Among those evacuated to safety were about 400 animals from the Wildlife Waystation, a sanctuary for rescued exotic animals within the national forest.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of firefighters are battling the flames

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