Fires evacuate US towns, burn cars

Last updated 16:00 03/05/2013
US fires

FIRE RISK: A California man walks back to his car after his camping trip was cut short due to a wildfire in Ventura County.

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A wildfire fanned by gusty winds is raging along the fringes of Southern California communities, forcing the evacuation of homes and a university while setting vehicles ablaze.

The blaze erupted during morning rush hour along a major highway about 80 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles. It was quickly spread by the winds, which also pushed other damaging blazes across the region.

Flames quickly moved down slopes toward subdivisions, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

More than 32 square kilometres were charred, and the fire was about 10 percent contained.

"We know the fire is bigger than that, but it's in some difficult terrain so it's hard to know," said fire spokesman Bill Nash.

A cluster ofvehicles in a parking lot was destroyed as flames moved close to a mobile home park.

About 2,000 homes were threatened by flames and 15 sustained damage, but none was destroyed, officials said.

No firefighter injuries were reported.

Fire officials said a hazardous materials team will deal with a store of highly toxic pesticides that caught fire at a Laguna Farms property, according the Ventura County Star. Area residents were warned to stay out of the smoke as much as possible.

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- AP

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