California fires leave trail of destruction

Major wildfires are bringing terror to residents and authorities across the state of California, USA, including the Rim fire, considered to be the 13th biggest blaze ever registered in the state.

The Rim fire that spread into Yosemite National Park while continuing to scorch a wide area of Stanislaus National Forest is one of 11 major wildfires burning this week, fought by nearly 9,000 fire-fighters from several local, state and federal agencies.

The fire, which at the time of going to press had been raging for 11 days, has burnt down nearly 290 square miles and by Tuesday night had destroyed 31 homes and 80 other structures.

A thick layer of smoke emerging from the fire has already led authorities to issue emergency warnings, telling people to stay indoors whenever possible and avoid outdoor physical activity.

California normally suffers from devastating forest fires, especially during the summer months.

The state has averaged about 3,000 wildfires per year since 2008.