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California’s Thomas Fire scorches area larger than New York City

The most destructive wildfire raging in southern California has expanded significantly, scorching an area larger than New York City.

The Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has consumed 230,000 acres in the past week.

Fanned by strong winds, it has become the fifth largest wildfire in recorded state history after it grew by more than 50,000 acres in a day.

Residents in coastal beach communities have been ordered to evacuate.

On Sunday, firefighters reported that 15% of the blaze had been contained but were forced to downgrade that to 10% as it continued to spread.

“This is a menacing fire, certainly, but we have a lot of people working very diligently to bring it under control,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The other fires hitting California are largely controlled, but 200,000 people have evacuated their homes and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed since 4 December.

Evacuation orders were issued overnight on Sunday for parts of Carpinteria close to Los Padres National Forest, about 100 miles (160km) northwest of Los Angeles.

Forecasters said wind speeds were expected to increase throughout the day, before dying down again overnight.

The local fire department tweeted pictures of a wall of flames advancing on homes on the outskirts of Carpinteria early on Sunday morning. –BBC

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