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New forest fires sweep through California, the burning of houses

GOLETA, California. – Firefighters battling wildfires in the U.S. West that torched hundreds of homes, hoping for the help from the weather Saturday as a new fire swept sizzling Southern California.

A fire on the California-Oregon border that destroyed 40 buildings and claimed at least one life since Thursday remained virtually out of hand, but a National Weather Service warning of extreme fire danger in the heat and wind gradients, and Friday.

Further to the south, a new wind-driven fire Friday evening burned at least 20 homes and threatened hundreds more in the hills above Goleta, Santa Barbara County, authorities said.

Evacuations were ordered as the fire have a place in residential areas, and by late Friday night, it was about a mile from the city center, county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni told KNX-AM radio.

Authorities said the fire began with a fire in the house, and stormy wind, which allegedly were the impressions of the flames.

The area is located to the north of where the Thomas Fire raged this past December. That blaze destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Ventura and Santa Barbara county.

East of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities ordered the evacuation of the community of Forest Falls, which are approximately 700 dwellings, as well as a fast-moving wildfire swelled to 1,000 acres (approximately 1.5 square miles).

In San Diego County, several fires broke out, including one that burned at least five houses and maybe many more in the Alps, in the hills not far from San Diego. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the county.

In a Red Cross shelter, Ben Stanfill told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he and other family members helped in the evacuation of the home of his mother, even though it was not in a mandatory evacuation area.

“We packed up everything you can’t replace or re-buy,” Stanfill said. “My grandmother’s photos, the cat of my sister’s Mickey Mouse with a teddy bear she had when she was little.”

The fire was just 5 percent contained Friday night, but the crew had virtually stopped growth and were focused on knocking down hotspots remain endangered houses and mobile homes, state fire officials said.

Another fire on the marine base Camp Pendleton prompted the evacuation of 750 homes.

The new characters, came as Southern California saw many areas above 100 degrees Friday and more than a dozen areas were record-breaking temperatures for the day. The weather forecast called for continued hot weather for much of the area Saturday.

In the north, the fire in Siskyou County on the Oregon border was almost empty, small communities of Hilt and Hornbrook. Fire officials called for immediate evacuation of a number of Oregon areas in the vicinity of the community of Colestin.

“We know that We have lost the houses and many structures, including livestock and horses as well,” said Ray Haupt, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

The body of a resident was found Friday morning in the charred remains of a Hornbrook house, but the authorities were struggling to identify the body.

“We have not even an address because of the devastation in the area,” Siskyou County sheriff’s Lt. Jeremiah LaRue told the San Francisco Chronicle.

No more deaths were expected, however.

“We are actually quite hopeful everyone got out,” LaRue said. “We have been talking to people who evacuated, and no one is missing now, so that is good.”

Elsewhere in California, a massive blaze northwest of Sacramento that started on June 30, had destroyed 10 houses and other buildings, but was 42 percent contained, officials said.

California is one of several Western states, where the recent forest fires have destroyed homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate.

A Utah wildfire that burned 90 structures and forced the evacuation of more than 1,100 people in a mountainous area near a popular fishing reservoir to the grow was Friday, but fire officials hoped to increase containment quickly.

The fire had burned about 75 square miles and was 4 percent surrounded.

In Colorado, rain helped slow the growth of the forest fires that burned dozens of homes. But the threat of a flood raised the possibility of floods in the area of a stubborn blaze in the southwestern corner of the state.

Officials issued a flash flood watch for the 85-square-meter (220 square kilometers) area burned by a fire that began on 1 June. She said that it was just a smoldering, and rain in the coming days should keep it from spreading.

Rain helped calm a fire in the heart of ski country that has destroyed three houses, including the house of a volunteer firefighter battling the flames near the resort town of Aspen. Gov. John Hickenlooper visited the area Friday.

It also provides relief in the southern mountains of Colorado, where a blaze destroyed about 130 houses and forced the evacuation of at least 2,000 properties. The Spring Creek Fire was the third largest in history, at 165 square miles (427 square km).

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