Firefighters in Northern California are continuing to battle a blaze that has destroyed at least 175 homes and businesses and forced 4,000 people to flee their homes.
Officials say the wildfire in Lake County was deliberately started and a 40-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson.
“ While this fire is still being fought they’re able to find a suspect and have him arrested and in custody.
And we have months and years ahead of us for the full recovery to make sure that you folks are back in you homes,” Lake County supervisor Rob Brown said.
The fire began on Saturday evening and spread quickly due to strong winds, intense heat and the state’s five-year drought. No fatalities or injuries have so far been reported but the devastation has left scores homeless.
One resident Mark Giberson spoke of the loss of his house and a storage unit which housed antique musical instruments and other memorabilia.
“I lost a collection of California history in there, and then also, about five houses down this way, I had another old house built in 1888, and that’s gone too,” Giberson said.
Lower Lake, around 130 kilometres north of San Francisco, was particularly badly hit after the fire reached the town’s main street.
“It’s so beyond tragic. There was no way to save these homes. They all burnt in a row up there. The winery burned – places I’ve known for many years and knew the people who owned these places,” said another resident.
Late on Monday officials said around 1,600 fighters were battling the blaze with only around 5 percent under control.
The fire is just one of two dozen major wildfires across the drought-parched U.S. West, estimated to have destroyed nearly 300,000 acres.