One dead, homes torched, thousands evacuated by Southern California wildfire

CARMEL, Calif., July 25 (UPI) — Authorities have cleared out more than 10,000 homes in Southern California ahead of a fast-moving wildfire that’s already burned down more than a dozen homes and killed one person.

The Sand Fire has already destroyed more than 52 square miles — or 33,000 acres — in the Santa Clarita area of the Angeles National Forest, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, officials said at a new conference Monday. At least 18 homes have been torched and one person killed.

Officials said more than 3,000 firefighters are battling the flames, which started Friday, and trying to keep the wildfire away from populated areas.

“We fought all day to try to contain that and try to protect all those structures. We had a lot of people that had to run out, and we had a lot of us having to run in,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief John Tripp said. “Conditions are very extreme.”

Los Angeles County Fire Dept./Facebook

A man was found dead inside of a burned vehicle near the fire, though officials have yet to reveal the cause of death.

A neighbor said the man had become separated from his significant other during the evacuation, KTLA reported Monday.

Fire officials said a substantial amount of dry vegetation in the area has fueled the blaze, and dry winds have made it worse. Sunday, officials said the fire was only 10 percent contained.

The Sand Fire isn’t the only one causing trouble in the Golden State.

The Soberanes Fire in Northern California is also giving firefighters and residents fits. It threatens more than 1,600 homes in Monterey County, officials said, and has so far claimed six homes.

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

Firefighting helicopters have circled the air between the Pacific Ocean and Garrapata State Park east of Highway 1, scooping up water and dousing flames all weekend. Rugged terrain, high winds, and hot, dry air have made controlling the fire particularly challenging, said officials said.

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