California bushfires wreak havoc on locals

  • 22/08/2016

A spate of fires throughout the US state of California have left people displaced and thousands of square kilometres of vegetation destroyed.

Outside San Bernadino, the Blue Cut fire exploded out of control, roaring through the Cajon Pass like a runaway train.

On Sunday (local time), thousands were evacuated and were anxious to see whether their homes were some of the 300 structures destroyed in that particular fire.

In Northern California the Clayton fire tore through 4000 acres and almost 200 homes, including that of Matthew Porter, who was tending to the US Olympic fencing team's equipment in Rio when he heard the news.

"Coming to see it, the difference between knowing it mentally and when you come and see it - that's when it kicks in," he said.

Along the coast, the Chimney fire is threatening the historic Hearst Castle in central California. Fires near Bakersfield and Santa Barbara have burnt through a combined 36,000 acres.

In just one week, these five fires - fueled by high temperatures, strong winds and years of drought - destroyed nearly 100,000 acres.

"As long as we have these conditions, we're going to see intense fires," National Park Service spokesperson Costa Dillon said.

"We used to think in Southern California that the Santa Ana wind season - that is the fall - was when fires were at their greatest danger - now it's all the time."

The Blue Cut fire is now mostly contained, but fire officials say it is still too dangerous for locals to return home.

CBS News