California Wildfires: 40,000 ordered to flee fires near Los Angeles

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GEYSERVILLE, Calif. (AP) – Authorities say they’ve ordered at least 40,000 people to evacuate as wind-driven fires rage near neighborhoods north of Los Angeles.

Several homes burned Thursday as two fires fanned by powerful winds swept through dry brush to the edge of communities in the Santa Clarita area. No injuries have been immediately reported.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby says there is no containment of either blaze.

The flames are fed by dry winds that are predicted to strengthen across the region. Forecasters say peak gusts could top 70 mph (112 kph).

A utility says it had a problem with a transmission tower near where a wildfire ignited in Northern California wine country, prompting a large evacuation.

Pacific Gas & Electric filed a report with the state utilities commission Thursday saying it became aware of a transmission level outage in the Geysers in Sonoma County around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.

The wildfire was reported minutes later in the same area, although it is not clear whether the malfunction sparked the blaze.

The state’s largest utility preemptively shut off power in Northern California on Thursday in a bid to prevent toppled electrical lines from igniting wildfires in dry, hot gusty winds.

Power was shut off to distribution lines but not to transmission lines.

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