Sunday, August 16, 2009

California wildfires continue to rage

Updated on : Sunday, August 16, 2009

CALIFORNIA: Wildfires raged Saturday in California, where efforts to control the week-old blazes are being hampered by high winds and difficult terrain, state fire prevention agency Calfire said.

One blaze in Santa Cruz county, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco, has forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people, destroyed two buildings and is threatening 250 homes in the communities of Swanton and Bonny Doon.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been out of state at the funeral for his mother-in-law Eunice Kennedy Shriver toured the affected areas Saturday, local media reported.

The governor's office said that the blaze, which began Wednesday, has already destroyed more than 2,700 hectares (6,672 acres) of land and is only 30 percent under control, despite the efforts of 1,600 firefighters.

Calfire said their main concerns are high temperatures and difficult terrain, which has forced firefighters to tackle the blazes mostly from the air.

California is frequently hit by wildfires and in 2007 suffered the worst blazes in its history, which forced the evacuation of 640,000 residents and destroyed around 2,000 homes in southern California.

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