A wildfire raged out of control along the northern edge of Los Angeles early Friday, forcing thousands of people from their homes as firefighters battled flames from the air and on the ground.
Police Chief Michel Moore said there were mandatory evacuations of 100,000 people in over 20,000 homes.
Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire had grown to more than 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) and at least 25 homes had been damaged.
The blaze erupted around 9 p.m. Thursday along the northern tier of the San Fernando Valley as powerful Santa Ana winds swept into Southern California.
Terrazas said there were sustained winds of 20-25 mph (32-40 kph) with gusts over 50 mph (80 kph) and relative humidity levels had fallen as low as 3 percent.
“As you can imagine the embers from the wind have been traveling a significant distance which causes another fire to start,” Terrazas said.
Helicopters made repeated water drops as crews on the ground attacked flames in and around homes. Water- and retardant-dropping airplanes joined the battle after daybreak. About 1,000 firefighters were on the lines.
Evacuations were also still in effect in the inland region east of Los Angeles where a fire erupted Thursday and raged through a mobile home park in the Calimesa area of Riverside County.
Seventy-four buildings were destroyed, others were damaged and Riverside County authorities were trying to determine if anyone was missing.
Fire danger is high throughout Southern California after the typically dry summer and early fall, and the notorious Santa Ana winds – linked to the spread of many wildfires – bring a dangerous mix of witheringly low humidity levels and powerful gusts.