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California wildfire doubles in size, covers 18,000 acres

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Fire burns along the Pacific Coast Highway close to Naval Base Ventura County, California on May 3, 2013.

A wildfire burning through coastal wilderness in the US state of California has nearly doubled in size since Friday morning, growing to almost 18,000 acres.

A Ventura County fire spokesman said the fire is burning new fuel in mostly unpopulated canyons, and that fire officials have managed to contain 20 percent of the blaze.

The fire was estimated to have burned about 38 square kilometers as of early Friday morning. After burning to the Pacific Ocean, a shift in winds caused the flames to reverse course and burn inland.

US Forest Service Division Chief Steve Seltzner said that “180-degree wind shift is a big concern for operations… [and] the infrastructure” that needs to be protected.

The fire erupted on Thursday in the Camarillo area, threatening as many as 4,000 homes but only damaging 15.

Flames have crept within 30 meters of homes in Hidden Valley as the fire veered dangerously close to luxury homes and ranches in the area, officials said.

Firefighters battled to save homes in Ventura County, in the south of the state. More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze, with helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft flying through thick smoke to drop water and flame retardant.

No injuries have been reported so far. Area residents scrambled to flee the flames, packing cars and loading horses into trailers as authorities issued more mandatory evacuations Friday afternoon.


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