Over 14,000 Homes Evacuated As Wildfires hit Southern California (with photos and video)
Thousands of homes in Southern California were evacuated late Wednesday as wildfires raged across more than 200 hectares of land. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency last night and strong winds were forecast for Thursday, heightening fears of the fires spreading.
late afternoon - 6 May | Photo 02
Santa Barbara officials said 5,430 houses were under mandatory evacuation, leaving over 13,000 people to find a place to stay for the night and worrying about their homes.
The fire, which began Tuesday, appeared to be dying down through most of Wednesday, said the CBC's Steve Futterman, reporting from Santa Barbara. But later that evening, gusts approaching 100 kilometres an hour hit the area, pushing the flames from north to south and into neighbourhoods around the town.
"There was really nothing firefighters could do. They tried to protect as many homes as they could and they were quite successful, but obviously many homes were destroyed," Futterman said. It's not immediately clear exactly how many buildings were destroyed in the blaze, he said, but initial reports indicated at least two dozen were affected.
Firefighters worked through the night, dropping water from helicopters and battling the blaze on the ground, to hold back the California wildfires that forced the evacuation of 1,200 homes. About 2,000 homes were in danger of being caught in the blaze that started north of Santa Barbara.