US & Canada

California fires: Evacuation orders given to 13,000

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Media captionThe "Rocky" fire is by far the largest and most active of the blazes

Evacuation orders have been given to 13,000 people in California as firefighters struggle to contain some 20 wildfires.

Some 9,000 firefighters worked throughout Monday in steep terrain and rugged conditions, officials said.

The biggest blaze - the so-called Rocky fire north of San Francisco - has already consumed more than 101 square miles (262 sq km) of land.

On Monday afternoon the fire jumped a highway that had been containing it.

More than 3,000 firefighters were employed to fight that specific blaze.

By Tuesday afternoon, cooler weather helped make a buffer between the flames and the 5,500 homes they could destroy.

No additional homes were destroyed on Tuesday, after 24 were burnt down the day before.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Firefighters were still trying to contain the Rocky Fire into Monday evening
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Officials say it continues to move fast
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The fire has left a trail of destruction in its wake

Officials described its rate of growth as unprecedented after it tripled in size over the weekend.

"I've never seen a fire act like this one," evacuee Vicki Estrella said.

"It's amazing the way that thing spread. There was smoke 300ft (90m) in the air."

Four years of drought in the western US have left the landscape tinder dry. Coupled with unseasonably humid conditions, lightning strikes and gusting winds, this has posed a severe challenge for firefighters and water-dropping aircraft.

While some progress has been reported in tackling the blazes, partially because of to a slight fall in temperatures, there is no rain forecast.

Other parts of the western US are also seeing wildfires. More than 300 people were moved from the path of a fire in Washington state, while another burned over 15,000 acres in Oregon.

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