96 houses destroyed by massive California wildfire

Los Angeles, Aug 20 (IANS) At least 96 houses were destroyed in the huge ongoing Southern California wildfire, while firefighters made more progress containing the blaze.

The Blue Cut Fire started near an exit off Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, which is a major artery from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on Tuesday and exploded in size, swelling to 37,020 acres by Friday night, NBC News reported.

More than 200 outbuildings were also destroyed, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

But containment of the fire grew to 40 per cent Friday evening, up from 26 per cent Friday afternoon, according to the department.

No casualties were reported but two firefighters were were injured and briefly hospitalised, NBC News quoted the San Bernardino Fire Department as saying.

“The crews are still working to determine that everyone made it out safe and there were no fatalities in this fire,” Fire Department public information officer Daniel Berlant said on Friday night.

More than 82,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders by Wednesday. Some evacuation orders were lifted on Friday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, NBC News said.

California is in the fifth year of drought, and dry conditions have exacerbated wildfire conditions. There were six major wildfires burning in the state on Friday, the fire department said.

In northern California, the Clayton Fire in Lake County has burned nearly 4,000 acres and destroyed at least 175 homes. It was 65 per cent contained Friday.

Investigators have said the cause of the fire was arson, NBC News added.



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