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Largest wildfire in Los Angeles history forces 700 evacuations

Sada El Balad
Edited by: Yara Sameh

The largest fire in Los Angeles history is engulfing thousands of acres of land and forcing residents to evacuate homes throughout the county، daily mail reported.

The fire، dubbed the La Tuna Fire after the canyon where it erupted، has already burned through 8،000 acres of land، and the heatwave in the area along with erratic winds are proving major obstacles for firefighters trying control the blaze.

The fire broke out Friday and has already forced the partial closure of the 210 Freeway، a major thoroughfare. The 210 is closed between the Glendale Freeway and Sunland Boulevard.

It's unclear when the freeway will completely reopen، according to the LA Times.

The blaze started with just one acre of brush on Friday.

The enormous blaze led authorities to evacuate more than 700 homes in a north Los Angeles neighborhood and in nearby Burbank and Glendale، officials said.

The wildfire on the northern edge of Los Angeles rapidly grew on Saturday into what the mayor called the largest blaze in the city's history.

'We can't recall anything larger،' Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas during a 10am news conference Saturday.

'Our priority is saving people and saving property،' Terrazas said، according to the LA Times.

'There is a lot of un-burned fuel in this area،' he added، noting this is the first fire in the area in 33 years.

Fire in thick brush that has not burned in decades was slowly creeping down a rugged hillside on Saturday toward houses، with temperatures in the area approaching 100 degrees، the Los Angeles Fire Department said in an alert.

Authorities warned of erratic winds that could force them to widen the evacuation zone، after the fire destroyed one house in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Our biggest concern is the wind and weather،' the chief said. 'The erratic weather is our number one challenge. If there's no wind، this is a relatively easy fire to put out. But when the wind changes، it changes our priorities because other properties become at risk.'

The fire could make air unhealthy to breathe in parts of Los Angeles، the nation's second-largest city، and nearby suburbs، the South Coast Air Quality Management District said in an advisory.

The fire was only 10 per cent contained Saturday with more than 500 firefighters battling it.

More than 400 miles to the north، the so-called Ponderosa Fire has burned 3،880 acres، or about 1،570 hectares، and destroyed 30 homes in Butte County since it broke out on Tuesday. It prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders earlier this week to residents of some 500 homes.

The blaze is 45 per cent contained.

California Governor Jerry Brown issued an emergency declaration on Friday to free up additional resources to battle the Ponderosa blaze.

Wildfires in the U.S. West have burned more than 7.1 million acres since the beginning of the year، about 50 per cent more than during the same time period in 2016، according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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