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Hundreds of homes in path of US wildfires evacuated

Surging wildfires have forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes across the US West, while firefighters battle two huge blazes looming over suburban Los Angeles.

Near the US-Mexico border south-east of San Diego, a two-day-old, 12-square-mile wildfire has taken a large leap and forced the evacuation of about 600 homes and more than 1,500 people in the community of Lake Morena Village.

In Utah, officials have evacuated about 100 homes from a mountain town in the south-west of the state as a wildfire less than a mile away is moving down a rocky slope towards the community of Pine Valley.

The blaze is less than a square mile, but moving dangerously close to homes in difficult terrain, officials said.

In Southern California, two adjacent fires in the San Gabriel Mountains 20 miles north-east of Los Angeles burned out of control but had not destroyed any homes while their combined size grew to more than eight square miles.

About 770 homes in the foothill city of Duarte were under evacuation orders and residents of Bradbury and Monrovia just to the west were urged to be ready to leave immediately if told to do so.

A 4am wind shift started bringing the fire down the mountains, but a helicopter making nighttime water drops slowed its advance.

Significant progress, however, was made overnight on the east side of Duarte, where flames crept down to the bottom of slopes behind homes until firefighters extinguished them.

The two fires erupted separately on Monday and scared homeowners before burning mostly away from the cities.

Elsewhere, crews made progress against a week-old blaze in rugged coastal mountains west of Santa Barbara, boosting containment to 70%.

About 270 homes and other buildings were threatened by the blaze, which has charred more than 12 square miles since Wednesday. Authorities plan to begin lifting mandatory evacuations there later.

Other blazes burned wide swathes across Arizona and New Mexico, where firefighters also faced blistering heat.

In New Mexico, a 28-square-mile fire that erupted last week and destroyed 24 homes in the mountains south of Albuquerque showed signs of slowing down.

Higher humidity has allowed crews to strengthen lines, and some evacuees would be allowed to return home on Tuesday.

In eastern Arizona, a fire doubled to nearly 42 square miles and led officials to warn a community of 300 residents to prepare to evacuate.

The blaze on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation was not moving quickly toward the community of Cedar Creek because of sparse vegetation and shifting winds.


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