No less than 1,600 firefighters are trying to contain a fast-spreading wildfire that has forced hundreds of evacuations in the drought-parched canyons north of Los Angeles, destroying 18 homes, killing at least one person and closing a highway.
Authorities said the Sand Fire had grown to more than 33,000 acres (13,300 hectares) by early Monday, or more than 50 square miles (130 square km). The fire is fueled by high winds and parched conditions after years of drought. Authorities canceled plans to let residents go back to a neighborhood, because it’s still dangerous to return in the area.
The fire mainly spread near Santa Clarita, just outside the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles county sheriff's department said. Another fire was also burning in a coastal area of Monterey county, 300 miles (480 km) northwest of Santa Clarita
"This is the fifth year of an ongoing drought, so we have very extreme fire behavior," the fire department chief, Daryl Osby told a Sunday news conference. "These are not normal times."
One person suffered non-life-threatening injuries and one structure was destroyed, the spokeswoman, Amber Anderson, said.
The fire near Santa Clarita, first reported on Friday afternoon, has forced at least 1,500 residents to evacuate their homes and destroyed at least 18 homes, the Los Angeles county fire department said in a statement.
About 100 commercial buildings in the path of the fire have been ordered to evacuate, fire officials said.
The 14 Freeway was closed to traffic because of the fire threat, the California Highway Patrol said on Twitter.
The remains of an unidentified person were found late on Saturday in a charred vehicle in the path of the blaze. The cause of death had yet to be decided, fire officials said.
"It's not a one-direction type of fire,'' said Nathan Judy, a spokesman for the Angeles National Forest, "It's going in different directions depending on which way the wind is blowing.''
Firefighters are still trying to pinpoint the cause of the wildfire, which had been only 10 percent contained by early on Monday, while extreme heat, strong winds help to spread the fire. Forecasters say there could be some relief in sight with cooler temperatures due to move in.