LOS ANGELES — A fast-moving brush fire burned in drought-stricken southern California on Sunday, as firefighters battled through thick smoke to get the massive blaze under control.
The fire covered 397 ha of land in the Prado Dam area, about 76km southeast of Los Angeles.
The fire was about 25 per cent contained, but some 600 firefighters struggled to work amid thick smoke that engulfed the area.
"It's been a challenge this whole operation," said Captain Mike Mohler of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Mohler said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but that California's ongoing drought had dried the normally full water basin at the Prado Dam.
"This area hasn't burned in almost 100 years, this is definitely an effect of the drought," he said.
He said a thick and dry forest bed allowed the fire to spread rapidly.
Around 200 homes were under evacuation orders late Saturday, but all residents were allowed to return home on Sunday.
No injuries and no property damage were reported, Mohler said.
The Riverside County Fire Department said the fire erupted shortly after 6:00 pm (0100 GMT) on Saturday.
Dramatic photos and videos showed flames reaching up into the sky and a massive cloud of black smoke billowing from the blaze as firefighters worked to stop the fire spreading.
California is experiencing its worst drought on record and much of the landscape throughout the state is bone dry. — AFP