Saddleridge fire: Thousands flee wildfire raging round Los Angeles

Wildfire burns in the Sylmar neighbourhood of Los AngelesImage copyright

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The wildfire burning in the Sylmar neighbourhood of Los Angeles

A fast-moving wildfire has razed over 4,000 acres, forcing thousands to flee just north of Los Angeles, California.

The Saddleridge fire has led to a mandatory evacuation for 12,700 homes, some of which have been destroyed.

A bin lorry that dumped burning rubbish sparked another wildfire on Thursday east of LA.

The state’s largest utility this week pulled the plug on at least 700,000 customers to prevent wildfires sparked by windblown power lines.

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No injuries have been reported so far in the Saddleridge fire, which was fuelled by gusty winds, warm temperatures and low humidity.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag fire condition warnings for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, cautioning of wind gusts of up to 75mph (120km/h) in the mountains and 55mph by the coasts.

As of early Friday morning, the Saddleridge fire was zero per cent contained, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Two major highways have been closed due to the flames.

The Los Angeles Times reports 100,000 people live in the evacuation area.

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Authorities have opened shelters for residents forced to abandon their homes.

The Saddleridge fire started on Thursday night in the San Fernando Valley and has since begun encroaching into northern neighbourhoods of the city. It remains unclear how it started.

It is one of several fires currently burning in southern California.

The blaze sparked by the garbage truck in Calimesa – a city some 70 miles east of Los Angeles – has spread to 500 acres and destroyed 74 structures, according to officials.

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Embers from the fire have been spread across the hillside due to the strong winds

That outbreak, dubbed the Sandalwood fire after a local landmark, was 10% contained as of Thursday night.

At least two other smaller wildfires prompted evacuations on Thursday as well.

Up in the north of the state this week, power company PGE cut electricity to parts of 22 counties, including portions of the San Francisco Bay Area, as a wildfire prevention method.

Media captionCalifornians cope with mass power outages

The planned outage was to prevent power lines felled by strong winds sparking fires. Last year, PGE’s fallen power lines started the deadliest wildfire in California’s history.

PGE has now begun restoring power, though more than 300,000 customers remained in the dark as of Thursday night.

The outages have been difficult for many residents, but particularly those with medical and health needs.

Local media report that many breastfeeding mothers have been banding together, connecting via online groups to share access to freezers and tips on how to store milk.