California fires blamed on arson

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The Independent US

More than 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes east of Los Angeles as a fire, believed to have been deliberately started, cut off interstate highways and destroyed four houses while threatening hundreds more. At one stage the main route from Las Vegas to southern California had to be closed.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes east of Los Angeles as a fire, believed to have been deliberately started, cut off interstate highways and destroyed four houses while threatening hundreds more. At one stage the main route from Las Vegas to southern California had to be closed.

The flames were whipped up by seasonal "devil winds", which pick up speed as they blow through mountain canyons from the desert to the coast. Firefighters warned they had contained only 20 per cent of the blazes, and would be struggling all weekend unless the winds dropped.

By yesterday, four days after the fire began in the San Bernardino National Forest, about 50 miles east of central Los Angeles, 12,600 acres of land were burnt out. Smoke billowed over the eastern edge of the Los Angeles suburban sprawl and cars were covered in ash. Interstate 15, the main road to Las Vegas, was closed, causing long traffic jams.

More than 1,500 firefighters, supported by water-spraying aircraft, battled the flames in the back yards of homes in Rancho Cucamonga and other communities. The blaze was one of several that swept through southern California as temperatures reached unseasonably high levels of 38C in some areas. (AP)

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