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Californians flee as fire spreads

A fire in Southern California has grown to a massive 20,000 acres, officials said yesterday, as residents north of Los Angeles were forced to evacuate.

The blaze, which has been dubbed the Sand Fire after a nearby neighbourhood, is only 10 per cent contained, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

Local media reported that a burnt body had been recovered in Santa Clarita, some 55km from downtown Los Angeles, although it was unclear if the person had died in the blaze.

The fire has been burning in Santa Clarita Valley since Friday, but it has now shifted to threaten more populated areas, said county fire officials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

At least 1,500 homes are threatened, the Times reported.

A number of roads remained closed and health officials warned of poor air quality and hazardous smoke.

More than 900 firefighters are battling the blaze and residents have been evacuated, reported NWCG, adding that structures had been destroyed or damaged.

California is experiencing a record five-year drought, and trees and brush are at risk of igniting from the smallest spark. - AFP

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