Los Angeles and Monterey Counties in California are under a state of emergency called by acting Governor Tom Torlakson on Tuesday, as two massive wildfires rage in Central and Southern California. Torlakson was in charge of the state as Governor Jerry Brown was in Philadelphia for the Democratic convention.
Firefighters on Friday were working to suppress a deadly wildfire near California's famed Big Sur coast that has burned more than 40 homes, forced hundreds of residents to flee and closed popular parks at the height of the summer travel season.
The so-called Soberanes Fire erupted last Friday just south of the upscale oceanside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and has raged through nearly 30,000 acres of drought-parched chaparral, tall grass and timber into the Los Padres National Forest.
4,200 firefighters are working on containing the fire, and dealing with super-low humidity and gradually rising temperatures that are making their job even tougher. Flames have already destroyed dozens of homes, officials said.
The fire threat has also prompted authorities to close a string of heavily visited campgrounds and recreation areas along the northern end of the Big Sur coastline, including Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Point Lobos Natural Reserve. Highway 1, the scenic route that winds along the famed seaside cliffs overlooking the Pacific, remained open.
The blaze took a deadly turn on Tuesday when a bulldozer operator hired by private property owners to help battle the flames was killed when his tractor rolled over.
On Thursday, the California Office of Emergency Services received a federal grant to help pay for firefighting efforts.
About 300 miles (485 km) away, a 67-year-old man was found dead in a burned-out car last Saturday after refusing to heed evacuation orders in a separate fire that destroyed 18 homes in a mountainous area north of Los Angeles.
That blaze, dubbed the Sand Fire, was listed as 65 percent contained on Thursday after charring more than 38,000 acres (15,400 hectares).
Lingering smoke and soot from a previous fire have prompted air-quality regulators to warn residents in parts of the Los Angeles region to avoid outdoor activities for the time being.
These photos show the chaos caused by the forest fires, and the battle to control them.
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