Tens of thousands evacuated as 70mph winds fuel California wildfires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

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Over 52,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes as rapidly spreading brush fires fanned by strong gusts scorch towns across California, leaving dozens of houses in ruins.

Quickly consuming nearly 16,000 acres in Sonoma County since starting late Wednesday night, one of the fires has chased 2,000 residents from their homes as emergency responders struggle to hold back the flames.

Tens of thousands evacuated as 70mph winds fuel California wildfires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
A burning structure is seen in a vineyard during the Kincade fire in northern California, October 24, 2019.


©  Reuters / Stephen Lam

Facing up to 70-mph winds, however, firefighters have only managed to contain about five percent of the blaze, according to Cal Fire. So far, nearly 50 structures have been lost.

The conflagration in Sonoma County – known as the ‘Kincade’ fire – continues to tear across swaths of northern California’s wine country, and is thought to have been started by a malfunctioning power line operated by Pacific Gas & Electric, though investigators have yet to rule out other causes.

Tens of thousands evacuated as 70mph winds fuel California wildfires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
A firefighter hoses a hot spot while battling the Kincade fire in northern California, October 24, 2019.


©  Reuters / Stephen Lam

The ALERT Wildfire program, a joint effort of the Universities of Nevada, UC San Diego and Oregon, captured the moment the fire ignited on camera.

While covering a smaller area of around 4,000 acres, a second blaze north of Los Angeles called the ‘Tick’ fire caused the bulk of evacuations on Thursday, with 50,000 residents asked to leave their homes and several structures destroyed, according to the LA County Fire Department. Interstate 5 was also shut down.

A number of smaller fires continue to burn around the state as well.

So far in 2019’s wildfire season, California has seen nearly 6,000 separate blazes, September’s ‘Walker’ fire being the largest this year, burning just shy of 55,000 acres in Susanville in September.

Tens of thousands evacuated as 70mph winds fuel California wildfires (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Firefighters arrive to battle the Tick fire, a wind driven wildfire in the hills of Canyon Country north of Los Angeles, California, October 24, 2019.


©  Reuters / Gene Blevins

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