Hundreds Flee California Wildfires

Hundreds Flee California WildfiresHundreds Flee California Wildfires

A wildfire has destroyed dozens of buildings and forced hundreds of people from their homes in central California. As many as 80 buildings in the mountain town of Lake Isabella have been destroyed, officials say.

Some 1,500 more are thought to be at risk, but officials say they are making progress towards controlling the blaze, with 350 firefighters battling flames. It was one of a number of fires sparked by recent hot weather across the western United States, BBC reported. Thousands of firefighters are struggling to control several wildfires raging in California, which is facing its fifth year of drought.

The Lake Isabella fire started some 65 km northeast of Bakersfield on Thursday, engulfing 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of parched grass, according to fire information website InciWeb.

Roads have been closed, power has been knocked out and evacuations ordered in nine communities, said the site, adding that evacuees are being sheltered at a school.

TV footage showed firefighting helicopters hovering amid billowing clouds of smoke, as flames consumed homes and roared through the Kern County foothills.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but fire officials said some residents had ignored the evacuation orders.

California’s largest wildfire in recent years was in San Diego County in 2003. That burned 2,820 buildings and led to 15 deaths.

The state’s deadliest fire on record killed 29 people in Los Angeles County in 1933.