Californian wildfires

UNSEASONABLY HOT weather on the western coast of America has led to wildfires in California, with the worst hit area being the millionaire’s paradise of Montecito.

Almost 5,500 houses have been evacuated in the area, including the homes of celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Michael Douglas and John Cleese, while 800 properties, ranging from mansions to mobile homes, across California have been destroyed in the fires.

A state of emergency was declared by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. However, winds have now dropped helping fire fighters control the burning.

Although the weather is now helping the situation, fire chiefs are warning that the area is not out of danger yet and there are “several days of hard work ahead”.

No deaths have been reported but search dogs are being used to examine debris to check if anyone was caught in the fast moving flames.

The cause of the fires is currently being investigated by the California department of forestry and fire protection.