LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Firefighters on Tuesday battled a wildfire burning in a canyon near multimillion-dollar homes in an exclusive Beverly Hills neighborhood, one of several fires in the record-breaking heat across California.
The blaze in Benedict Canyon, above posh Beverly Hills, had caused damage to only one home by mid-afternoon, and fire officials said they expected to stop the flames before more structures were burned. There were no evacuations or reports of injuries.
Meanwhile, firefighters in San Diego, more than 100 miles (160 km) to the south, spent a third day struggling to control a fierce wildfire that has blackened more than 15,400 acres (6,230 hectares) and forced evacuation of several neighborhoods.
The so-called Horse Fire was only about 5 percent contained as of Tuesday, when officials called in a jumbo jet that had been converted to a massive air tanker capable of dropping 12,000 gallons (54,550 litres) of water or fire retardant.
The U.S. Forest Service said investigators believe the Horse Fire was started on Sunday by illegal immigrants who abandoned a campfire in Horsethief Canyon after crossing the Mexican border.
On Catalina Island, off the Southern California coast, crews had largely contained a brush fire that charred some 1,000 acres (405 hectares) and prompted officials to evacuate about 20 homes.
Fire crews and equipment had been ferried to the 76 square mile (200 sq km) island on hovercraft to tackle the flames, which may have been started by lightning.
About 800 firefighters worked to contain an 8,000-acre (3,240 hectares) fire in Monterrey County that was also started by lightning. Another blaze, which has been burning in Joshua Tree National Park, has been fully contained, the Forest Service said.
California has been sweltering under record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures for much of July, straining the power grid and triggering a rising number of deaths.
At least 30 deaths have been blamed on the heat, most of them elderly people living in California’s central valley which was under its fifth straight day of excessive heat warnings.
Temperatures in parts of central California and inland areas of Los Angeles County have soared to 119 degrees F (49 Celsius) but weather forecasters expected a slight cooling trend in the next few days.