Related News

Home » World

Thousands flee California wildfires

FIREFIGHTERS in California faced another day of heat, gusts and potential destruction yesterday as they battled a growing blaze descending on the scenic coastal city of Santa Barbara that forced more than 5,000 homes to evacuate.

TV news helicopters showed at least a dozen homes ablaze Wednesday night as the fire swelled to 200 hectares, but authorities had no immediate estimate of how many houses had been destroyed. The hot, dry conditions resembled late summer more than the middle of spring.

Huge mansions and humble homes alike were reduced to rubble, leaving palm trees swaying over gutted ruins. Aerial footage showed five or more luxury homes burning along one crest-top road, and many flare-ups dotting the residential hills were apparently burning homes.

"The fire is very spotty and patchy and there's a lot of smoke, which makes it difficult to see the damage," Santa Barbara County fire Captain David Sadecki said. "Because it involves people's homes, we don't want to speculate."

The fire went from tame to explosive Wednesday afternoon as gusts up to 80 kilometers per hour in temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius hurled the fire from north to south into neighborhoods, Santa Barbara County fire Captain David Sadecki said.

It remained out of control yesterday morning, though temperatures dropped to 15 to 20 degrees and winds calmed.

Governor Arnold Schwar°?zenegger declared a state of emergency, and the National Weather Service issued a "Red Flag" warning for fire danger, predicting strong wind danger through to this morning.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokesman Drew Sugars said 5,430 homes were under mandatory evacuation. The estimated population of those homes was 13,575 people, he said.

Some of the evacuated were allowed to return to their homes yesterday, the county said, but officials had no estimate of how many people were affected.

More than 900 firefighters were on the lines, and 20 more strike teams totaling about 1,300 firefighters were requested.

"The firefighters are picking houses and seeing if they can make a stand," Sadecki said.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend