Wildfire forces thousands to flee their homes in California

Wildfire forces thousands to flee their homes in California

More than 4,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to escape a wildfire scorching land around 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

The blaze was first reported just before 12.45pm local time on Monday and within hours it had grown in size to cover an area of around two square miles, officials said.

Fire crews were photographed battling the inferno into the night.

Three buildings were destroyed and six others damaged in Aguanga, Riverside County.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

Officials said the fire had been fuelled by gusts of up to 25 mph from the Santa Ana winds, which sweep across parts of California several times a year.

Fire spokesman Jeff LaRusso said about 1,300 homes and 4,000 residents had been placed under evacuation orders.

He added that dry grasslands in the area were “almost like kindling” for the flames, worsened by low humidity and the winds.

A shelter for those forced to flee their homes was opened at a nearby high school, along with a separate facility for pets and other animals, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The newspaper said the evacuation zone and road closures were expanded during the night.