California is boiling under wildfires
PIC: AFP

New wildfires ravaged bone-dry California during a scorching Labour Day weekend that saw a dramatic airlift of more than 200 people trapped by flames and ended with the state's largest utility turning off power to 172,000 customers to try to prevent its power lines and other equipment from sparking more fires.

California already has set a record with 2 million acres burned this year. The previous record was set just two years ago and included the deadliest wildfire in state history - the Camp Fire that swept through the community of Paradise and killed 85 people.

The utility said it has learned from past problems, "and this year will be making events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers." Two of the three largest fires in state history are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are battling those fires and about two dozen others around California.

The fire danger also is high in Southern California, where new fires were burning in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. The US Forest Service on Monday decided to close all eight national forests in the region and to shutter campgrounds statewide.

"The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously." said Randy Moore, regional forester for the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region that covers California. "Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behaviour, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire."

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