California wildfires force thousands to evacuate

Firefighters battle brush fires in Southern California as heatwave worsens the conditions.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A helicopter makes a water drop at the "Old Fire," in Calabasas, California, US, June 4, 2016.

Brush fires broke out in Calabasas and West Hills, California on Saturday night forcing people to leave their homes as firefighters battle the raging blazes.

Water-dropping helicopters tried to control the fires which already burnt about 500 acres around Calabasas.

At least 3,000 homes have been evacuated, and more than 500 firefighters are currently battling the blazes, officials said.

A helicopter makes a water drop run at the "Old Fire," in Calabasas, California, US, June 4, 2016

"This is a fast-moving, dangerous fire," Los Angeles County Fire Chief Dennis Cross told local media. "It's hard for people to see where this fire is because of the dense canopy and the canyons."

Evacuated residents were advised to find shelter at the nearby Agoura High School.

According to Deputy Jeffrey A. Gordon from Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, the fire was sparked after a pickup truck hit an electric pole on Mulholland Highway in Calabasas.

“Witnesses reported that the truck was travelling at a high rate of speed before smashing into a power pole, causing the pole to fall and a transformer to explode, thus igniting the Calabasas fire."

The blaze, dubbed the Old Fire, was 15 percent contained by late Saturday local time, Los Angeles Fire Captain Roland Sprewell confirmed.

Calabasas is home to about 24,000 residents and is located in the western hills of the San Fernando Valley.

Calabasas and the Santa Monica Mountains have witnessed such incidents in the past as well. In 2013 a severe blaze scorched around 28,000 acres in two days.

TRTWorld and agencies