The Latest: Northern California wine country wildfire grows
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):
A wildfire raging in Northern California wine country grew overnight and firefighters are desperate to control it in advance of heavy winds forecast for Saturday.
State fire officials said on their website Friday that the fire that started Wednesday night in Sonoma County had grown to 34 square miles (88 square kilometers) Friday morning.
The fire has destroyed 49 buildings and is 5% contained.
The fire was whipped up by the strong winds that prompted the Pacific Gas & Electric utility to impose sweeping blackouts affecting about 500,000 people in Northern and central California.
The utility says power was restored to most people by Thursday evening but is warning of another broad shutdown that could affect 2 million people starting Saturday.
About 2,000 people in the wine country town of Geyserville and surrounding areas were under orders to evacuate.
Officials say the Los Angeles Unified School District has closed all of its schools in the San Fernando Valley because of a wildfire north of the city that prompted authorities to order the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.
The district in a statement Friday cites poor air quality because of smoke and safety concerns for the closures affecting thousands of students.
The district also says about two dozen independent charter schools are also closed.
The fire started Thursday afternoon in a rural area and strong winds swept it into outlying areas of the city of Santa Clarita.
Winds at speeds up to about 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) are fanning the wildfire. Television images before dawn Friday showed several burning homes.
Howling winds at speeds of about 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) are fanning a wildfire north of Los Angeles, forcing new evacuations and burning more suburban homes.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department says the fire jumped State Route 14 at about 3 a.m. Friday, sending flames into housing areas and shutting the major freeway connecting high desert communities with Los Angeles.
New evacuations have been ordered for the Sand Canyon section of the city of Santa Clarita.
Television images have shown several homes burning before dawn Friday.
There’s no immediate information on how many people the new evacuation order encompasses. Previous evacuation orders issued when the fire broke out on Thursday covered an estimated 50,000 people.
The winds are expected to gradually decrease in the afternoon.
Punishing Santa Ana winds that pushed fires into Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, burning six homes, are expected to last through Friday.
The wind-whipped blazes broke out Thursday in the Santa Clarita area. One remains uncontained. As many as 50,000 people are under evacuation orders.
In Northern California, a fire near the wine country town of Geyserville has burned 49 buildings.
Pacific Gas & Electric had cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in the region as a fire safety measure but said it had not deenergized a transmission line that had a problem about the time the fire started.
However, authorities have not determined causes of any of the fires.
Most of those power outages ended late Thursday but PG&E warned they might resume Saturday when fierce winds are expected to return and boost fire danger.