Wildfires Rage in California and Other Western US States


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About 14,000 firefighters are continuing to battle 25 wildfires in the western U.S. state of California that have burned more than 890,000 hectares.

Authorities have warned that gusty winds Wednesday could further fuel the fires that have already grown significantly as record-breaking heat settled in across the western part of the country.

Two of the three largest fires in recorded state history are burning north of the San Francisco Bay area, although the fires have been largely contained after burning for three weeks.

Over the past couple of days, helicopters rescued hundreds of stranded people from the burning Sierra National Forest in central California, where 365 buildings have been destroyed, including 45 homes.

The U.S. Forest Service said 14 firefighters were forced to go to emergency shelters Tuesday after flames destroyed a fire station in the Los Padres National Forest on California's central coast.

Forecasters predict hot, dry wind could reach more than 80 kilometers per hour Wednesday in Southern California, where fires have burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The fires have forced thousands of Californians to evacuate their homes. The U.S. Forest Service closed all eight national forests in the southern half of California and all campgrounds throughout the state.

Wildfires are also raging in the western states of Washington and Oregon. A firestorm destroyed 80% of the homes in the small Washington town of Malden, along with the fire station, the post office, city hall and the library. The fire erupted around noon Sunday and engulfed most of the town in about three hours.