Wildfires in the US force 82,000 to flee their homes

A new fire in drought-plagued Southern California spreads across more than 100sq kms in just two days.

As many as eight wildfires were burning in California on Wednesday [Reuters]

A wildfire in Southern California raged virtually unchecked in thick brush on Wednesday after destroying dozens of houses and forcing the evacuation of more than 80,000 people from their homes, officials said.

The so-called Blue Cut Fire ignited on Tuesday in the mountainous Cajon Pass, near a highway corridor between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and has since covered more than 100sq km.

Firefighters had carved containment lines around only 4 percent of the blaze by Wednesday night, according to fire service officials.

They described the blaze as unusually fierce, even in a year of intense wildfires in the west, where years of drought have put a heavy burden on firefighting resources.

“In my 40 years of fighting fire, I’ve never seen fire behaviour so extreme as it was yesterday,” Michael Wakoski, the incident commander, told a news conference on Wednesday.

As many as eight wildland fires were burning in California on Wednesday, three of them scorching thousands of hectares as firefighters sought help from emergency services in other states and the California National Guard.

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