LOS ANGELES – Wildfires chewed through tinder-dry brush and homes in California on Friday, forcing thousands to flee ritzy seaside neighborhoods, comfortable foothill suburbs and tiny farming communities.
Up to 1,500 people were ordered to evacuate from the wealthy seaside community of Rancho Palos Verdes late Thursday, Los Angeles County fire Capt. Mike Brown said.
At least six homes or structures were lost in the quick-moving blaze, local media reports said. Helicopters dropped water on the 75-acre blaze, slowing its progression toward homes, but there was no containment early Friday, Stowers said.
About 500 homes in La Canada Flintridge, a suburb just 12 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, also were ordered evacuated late Thursday as flames made their way slowly down from the San Gabriel Mountains, Forest Service fire spokeswoman Diane Cahir said.
The fire kicked up late Thursday afternoon as the blaze scorched at least 500 acres of heavy brush in steep and narrow canyons.
The wealthy communities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula south of Los Angeles, are in an area known for horse trails, spectacular Pacific views, pricey real estate and exclusive golf clubs, including one owned by Donald Trump.
The Terrenea Resort, a luxury hotel a couple miles from the fire, opened its door to residents who had to evacuate.
By midnight Friday, only two families took advantage of the offer but several others called to inquire, hotel spokeswoman Wendy Haase said. The resort's usual weeknight rate is $264, but the rooms weren't fully booked so the managers decided to help out, she said.
"I talked to one mom and her child and a dog. They were pretty calm, all things considered," she said. "It's pretty late so everyone's just exhausted and wanted to get some sleep."
Weather plagued fire crews across Southern California as temperatures in some areas rose toward triple digits and humidity levels headed downward. For a second day, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of extreme fire conditions Thursday for many of California's central and southern mountain ranges.
Three days of low humidity and temperatures that hit 99 before noon Thursday in downtown Los Angeles sapped the brush of moisture.
Another fire in the San Gabriel Mountains spread a lung-burning haze over much of metropolitan Los Angeles, and was 60 percent contained late Thursday after burning across 2,000 acres, or more than 3 square miles, U.S. Forest Service Capt. Jim Wilkins said.
Nearly 1,000 firefighters aided by bulldozers and a fleet of water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft worked the fire's northeastern edge.
Wilkins said the area is so steep that "it's almost to the point where you need ropes" for firefighters to reach it.
The fire, believed caused by human action began Tuesday near a dam and reservoir in San Gabriel Canyon, six miles above the city of Azusa.
Farther north in Monterey County, 100 homes were evacuated about four miles from the community of Soledad. The fire had burned more than 2,000 acres of steep grasslands, or more than 3 square miles, since it was reported Thursday afternoon, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Capt. James Dellamonica said. The blaze has not been contained.
To the west, in the San Bernardino National Forest in Riverside County, another fire had blackened 600 acres by Thursday evening and prompted authorities to issue a voluntary evacuation of 12 homes in the area near Hemet, Forest Service fire spokeswoman Anabele Cornejo said. She said about five people had left and that the fire was 5 percent contained.
The Asssociated Press contributed to this report.