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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 17:22, September 29, 2005
Hundreds evacuated as wildfires sweep Southern California
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Hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes north of Los Angeles late Wednesday as brush fires driven by strong winds swept the hillsides in the Southern California county, officials said.

About 700 firefighters stayed on the job through the night trying to control the blaze which began along the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Chatsworth, about 50 km northwest of Los Angeles, officials said.

"It's still warm and the winds are still blowing and we still have fires," said Inspector Ron Haralson.

The fire burned some 3,500 acres, and only about 5 percent of the fire was contained as of 10 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The blaze followed a similar path as a fire in the same area last year, but heavy brush caused by heavy winter rains provided plenty of fuel for the flames, officials said.

Additional firefighters have rushed to the Bell Canyon area where several large homes were being threatened by flare-ups.

Officials said firefighters took the rare step of continuing helicopter operations to fight the blaze from the air at night.

Earlier, a fixed-wing aircraft was called in to fight the fire during the remaining daylight hours.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at a high school in the area, and evacuations were also ordered in nearby canyons, local television reported.

Despite earlier reports that as many as five homes had been destroyed, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Fire Department said only one home had been destroyed, along with the garage of another home.

Source: Xinhua

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