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Saddleridge fire: One dead in blaze raging round Los Angeles

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Media caption'I saw the flames and said we gotta go' - wildfires near Los Angeles force thousands to flee

At least one person is dead in a fast-moving wildfire that has razed 4,700 acres north of Los Angeles, California, forcing thousands of others to flee.

The Saddleridge fire has led to a mandatory evacuation for 25,000 homes, some of which have been destroyed.

A lorry with burning rubbish sparked another fire on Thursday east of LA.

The state's largest utility this week pulled the plug on at least 700,000 customers to prevent wildfires sparked by windblown power lines.

The Saddleridge fire has been fuelled by gusty winds, warm temperatures and low humidity.

The victim, a man in his late 50s, died from cardiac arrest connected to the blaze, fire officials told local media.

By Friday morning, the fire had grown to more than seven square miles (18 square km), burning at least 25 homes.

"Nobody's going home right away. This is going to take a few days," Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas told a Friday morning news briefing.

He said the fire was still zero per cent contained.

Two major highways have been closed due to the flames.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag fire condition warnings for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, cautioning of wind gusts of up to 75mph in the mountains and 55mph by the coasts.

Some 100,000 people live in the evacuation zone.

Authorities have opened shelters for residents forced to abandon their homes.

The Saddleridge fire started on Thursday night in the San Fernando Valley and has since begun encroaching into northern neighbourhoods of the city. It remains unclear how it started.

It is one of several fires currently burning in southern California.

Image copyright Reuters

The blaze sparked by the garbage truck in Calimesa - a city some 70 miles east of Los Angeles - has spread to 500 acres and destroyed 74 structures, according to officials.

That outbreak, dubbed the Sandalwood fire after a local landmark, was 10% contained as of Thursday night.

At least two other smaller wildfires prompted evacuations on Thursday as well.

Up in the north of the state this week, power company PG&E cut electricity to parts of 22 counties, including portions of the San Francisco Bay Area, as a wildfire prevention method.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Embers from the fire have been spread across the hillside due to the strong winds

The planned outage was to prevent power lines felled by strong winds sparking fires. Last year, PG&E's fallen power lines started the deadliest wildfire in California's history.

PG&E has now begun restoring power, though more than 300,000 customers remained in the dark as of Thursday night.

The outages have been difficult for many residents, but particularly those with medical and health needs.

Local media report that many breastfeeding mothers have been banding together, connecting via online groups to share access to freezers and tips on how to store milk.

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Media captionCalifornians cope with mass power outages

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