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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – California bore down Saturday against the continuing heat and wildfires that have forced the evacuations of hundreds of homes as red-flag warnings of extreme fire danger predicted gusty winds and scorching, dry air.
For a second day, triple-digit highs were forecast for many regions of Southern California.
On Friday, the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles topped out at 111 degrees while Palm Springs recorded 115, and even San Diego and beaches hit the 80s.
It reached 106 in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles, where a brushfire raged up tinder-dry ridges near State Route 14. As many as 400 homes and a recreational vehicle park were ordered evacuated.
"It just continues to move. It's not slowing down," Los Angeles County fire Inspector Joey Marron said late Friday night.
No homes had burned and the fire was heading southward into Angeles National Forest and away from densely populated areas north of it in Santa Clarita, which has about 180,000 residents.
"I got all my tenants out of the RV park and for the people that weren't there and still have dogs, I broke into their trailers and got their dogs out," Kurtis Bell, manager of River's End RV Park, told KCAL-TV.
Driven by 20 mph winds, the afternoon fire quickly enveloped more than 5 square miles of brush near a freeway, State Route 14. Some lanes were shut and Metrolink train service in the area was halted.
Huge flames leapt on ridgetops and smoke could be seen miles away in downtown Los Angeles.
"You could see the fire (on) the top of that mountain, the tops of all these mountains, 20 feet up in the air," Bell said. "It absolutely looked like the apocalypse."
About 300 firefighters and a dozen aircraft fought the fire. As night fell, the flames were heading away from the more heavily populated areas of Santa Clarita, which has around 180,000 residents, toward the Angeles National Forest.
Nighttime images showed long glowing lines on the ridges, topped by soaring swaths of flames and walls of smoke.
In the steep, rugged canyons near the Central California coast, a fire near Big Sur in Monterey County burned nearly 1 ½ square miles of brush, grass and redwoods. Garrapata State Park south of Carmel was closed for the weekend.
It was heading toward the famously beautiful Big Sur forest and was expected to burn more fiercely at night as moist ocean air retreated and warm, dry air from inland began blowing toward the sea, state fire spokesman Jonathan Pangburn said.
No homes were immediately threatened in the sparsely populated area.