California wildfire spreads quickly; residents evacuate

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(Reuters) – A fast moving wildfire driven by strong wind and high temperatures tore through homes north of Los Angeles late on Friday, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate.

Firefighters work at the site of a wildfire in Goleta, California, U.S., July 6, 2018 in this image obtained on social media. Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire/via REUTERS

The blaze broke out in a building in Goleta, California at about 8:30 p.m., spreading to vegetation before damaging or destroying at least 12 other buildings, fire officials said.

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“911 lines are jammed up; please only call if there is an emergency. Fire and public safety crews are active in the Goleta area,” the county fire department said on Twitter.

The fire is one of dozens that firefighters were battling across the western United States, fanned by scorching heat, winds and low humidity.

The first death attributed to the fires was announced on Friday, when the remains of an unidentified person were found in a home burned to the ground by the Klamathon fire, which broke out Thursday near California’s border with Oregon.

This year’s fires had burned more than 2.9 million acres through Thursday, compared with an annual average of about 2.4 million over the last 10 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by John Stonestreet

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