Southern California is again suffering as the Santa Ana "devil winds" continue to whip three major wildfires into frenzies that have killed two, consumed dozens of homes, forced the evacuations of thousands of people, and burned 12,000 acres, according to an Associated Press report.
The Sesnon and Marek fires are each 5,000 acres or larger. The Camp Pendleton fire is about 3,000 acres and threatened the 1,400 homes in the military base there. None of the fires were significantly contained, despite the efforts of thousands of firefighters.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The Santa Ana winds blow this time of year, and can bring hot, dry air coursing out of the desert, increasing fire risk in the fire-prone region. Suburban sprawl has contributed to the risk, as more homes are built in dangerous zones where fire is a natural part of the landscape.
The wildfire season in 2008, despite a brisk start this spring, has been well below the recent average.
As of Friday, when federal officials last tallied statistics, 58,530 fires had burned 4.5 million acres - 15.6% and 29.2%, respectively, below the 10-year average.
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