Belfast woman's house escapes California inferno

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Image source, Geraldine Gilliland
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Geraldine Gilliland (right) is happy that she and her 23 dogs are safe

A Belfast woman has thanked friends who helped save her house from wildfires which are raging throughout California.

Geraldine Gilliland's home in Malibu has been saved but she cannot return due to fears of wind fanning the fires.

However, a property belonging to the chef in the Agoura Hills area of Los Angeles has been destroyed.

Despite that Ms Gilliland said she felt lucky and grateful as others in her community did not fare as well.

"I'm emotionally drained, can barely sleep, and literally left with just the clothes on our back and my Beatles autographs!" she wrote on social media on Sunday.

At least 25 people have died and more than 250,000 have been forced to evacuate their homes.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to avoid three major blazes in California

The blazes, at three major locations in the state, are amongst the most destructive wildfires ever to strike north and south California.

Ms Gilliland, who has lived in the US for decades, told BBC News NI on Saturday that she had "never seen anything like it" and described the scene as an "inferno".

The successful businesswomen, who is originally from Andersonstown, and her 23 dogs were sheltering in a restaurant in Santa Monica when she spoke to the BBC.

A previous home belonging to her burnt down in a fire in 2007.

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