California wildfire forces evacuation of thousands

Sunday, April 27, 2008

At least 400 homes have been evacuated in Sierra Madre near Los Angeles, California after a wildfire which started on Saturday, began to threaten their homes.

So far only five percent of the 350 acre fire is contained, with over 400 firefighters battling the blaze. Authorities say that it has been over 40 years since some parts of the land have caught fire.

The cause of the fire is not known. Authorities say the investigation into how it started may take up to three days to finish.

So far there have been no injuries and no homes have yet been damaged, but one building storing equipment used by firefighters was burned to the ground. For a short time, at least 100 hikers were trapped in the mountains and a boy scout camp was also threatened by the blaze. Several people celebrating a wedding have also been trapped by the fire but are not injured and authorities say they are in no danger from the blaze. However, there are currently around 1000 people under mandatory evacuations, and the city has been declared in a state of emergency.

It could take at least five days before the fire can be brought under full control.