New fires break out in Southern California

Los Angeles: Wind gusts as high as 113 kmph contributed to the rapid spread of two new fires that erupted in Southern California, where firefighters continued to battle other massive blazes.

Scores of firefighters were deployed to San Bernardino, about 100 km east of Los Angeles, on Thursday to confront the Hillside Fire, reports Efe news.

Other units were sent to neighbouring Riverside County, site of the 46 Fire.

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Between them, the two blazes have already destroyed a dozen structures, and authorities ordered mandatory evacuations in both locations.

The state’s governor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, said his administration had taken steps to obtain resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bolster California’s fire-fighting capability.

“California and its federal, local and community partners are working in lockstep to meet the extraordinary challenges of the past two weeks,” he said in a statement.

While one of the existing Southern California fires, the Hill Fire, was declared under control, the Easy Fire, which broke out early Wednesday near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, was only 10 per cent contained.

The flames in Simi Valley have consumed 1,723 acres and area residents remained order a mandatory evacuation order.

Meanwhile, the nearly 10,000 people – including celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and NBA superstar LeBron James – ordered out of Los Angeles’ exclusive Brentwood neighbourhood earlier this week because of the Getty Fire were to be allowed to return to their homes on Thursday.

That blaze, which started before dawn Monday near the Getty Center museum, was now 39 per cent contained.

There was also some good news for most of the 180,000 people in Northern California’s Sonoma County who had been forced from their homes by the Kincade Fire, which was listed as 60 per cent contained after the flames devastated 76,825 acres and destroyed 266 structures.

The Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which provides power in the northern part of the state, said that it planned to restore service to 95 per cent of the 1.5 million people who have been in the dark for days after the company cut the current to prevent damaged transmission equipment from increasing the fire risk.

Southern California Edison, however, said that would continue planned blackouts in Greater Los Angeles while the high winds persisted.

On Wednesday, firefighters in Northern California’s Contra Costa County said that PG&E equipment caused two blazes in their jurisdiction.

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