Thursday, October 25, 2007

California wildfire damage

Fires raging across California have caused more than $1-billion in property damage and left three people dead, officials said on Wednesday, as a lull in winds allowed firefighters to make their first significant progress in combating the flames.

Around 1700 buildings have been destroyed in the 18 fires that have erupted since Sunday, forcing an estimated 500 000 people to flee their homes and scorching 172 000 hectares of tinder-dry countryside stretching from celebrity-studded Malibu to beyond the Mexican border.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said three people had died and 40 people had been injured in the fires, the worst to hit California since devastating 2003 blazes which claimed 22 lives.

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