Fast-growing fires throughout California forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes Thursday as dry winds and high heat fed flames and fears in the state still jittery from devastating wildfires in the past two years. The dramatic fires and evacuations—near Los Angeles and in the wine country of northern California—came against a backdrop of power shutoffs that utility companies said were necessary to stop high winds from toppling trees or blowing debris into power lines and starting fires, the AP reports. The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., warned that more widespread blackouts this weekend are expected to shut power across much of the San Francisco Bay Area. It will be the third major outage this month.
Officials said no deaths or injuries have been reported. It is not clear how any of the blazes began. In southern California, two fires rolled along the parched foothills north of Los Angeles, forcing at least 40,000 people to flee neighborhoods where thousands of homes have sprung up in recent decades. At least six homes burned as the blazes swept through dry brush to the edge of communities in the Santa Clarita area. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said Thursday evening there was no containment of either blaze. In Northern California wine country, authorities ordered 2,000 people to evacuate as a wildfire burned 49 buildings and exploded to 25 square miles, whipped up by the strong winds that had prompted PG&E to impose blackouts across the region.
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