California brush fire forces evacuations

2015-12-26 22:17

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Los Angeles - A fierce, wind-fuelled brush fire raged in southern California on Saturday, forcing evacuations and the closure of a stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway.

About 500 firefighters were battling the as yet uncontained blaze around Solimar Beach, located between Santa Barbara to the north and Malibu to the south, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol shut down a number of roads in response to the inferno, including parts of the 101 Freeway and about 16km of the Pacific Coast Highway, Mike Lindbery, a spokesperson for the Ventura County Fire Department, told AFP.

An estimated 30 homes were threatened by the fire, which also swept through an area with an extensive network of oil wells and underground pipelines, Lindbery told AFP, adding he did not believe any had been ignited by the flames.

The fire was currently uncontained, he added.

So far, the blaze has burned through some 1 445 ha, according to Ventura County's emergency information website.

"The fire is being pushed by a strong northwest wind," it said.

The Solimar Beach community was under a mandatory evacuation order, while a voluntary evacuation notice was issued for the neighbouring Faria Beach community, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up for residents, it said.

Read more on:    us  |  wildfires

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