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California fire burns Bel-Air mansions as spread continues

Firefighters remove a painting after removing a Christmas tree (R) to rescue them as they continue to extinguish fires in a home during the "Skirball Fire" which began early morning in Bel-Air, California, USA, 06 December 2017. Image copyright EPA

Residents of Los Angeles’ wealthy Bel-Air neighbourhood have found their homes under threat after another wildfire erupted in California.

The so-called Skirball Fire destroyed several homes in the exclusive area, quickly spreading over 150 acres.

It is the latest eruption of wildfire in the state, which has already seen widespread destruction from a series of uncontrolled blazes.

The largest, named the Thomas Fire, has covered some 90,000 acres.

By Wednesday night local time, California’s fire service said it had threatened 12,000 buildings, destroyed 150, and was only “5% contained”.

Image copyright AFP

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in several areas, as strong winds helped to spread the flames.

Authorities issued a purple alert – the highest level warning ever issued in the state – amid what it called “extremely critical fire weather”.

Ken Pimlott, head of California’s fire response, told reporters: “There will be no ability to fight fires in this kind of wind.”

He said evacuations would be prioritised.

Image copyright Reuters

In Bel-Air on Wednesday, firefighters were seen removing artwork from opulent homes as they attempted to contain the fire.

A large estate and vineyard owned by billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch was also threatened, and suffered some damage.

The Los Angeles Times said Mr Murdoch had paid $28.8m (£21.5m) for the estate four years ago – a sum 12 times the average family home price in Bel-Air of $2.45m.

Another blaze north of Los Angeles, named the Creek Fire, was also only 5% contained and covered some 12,600 acres. But it has only destroyed four buildings in the more sparsely populated area.

Across the entire state, more than 200,000 people have been evacuated.


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