Wildfire churns through LA mountains
PIC: AFP

An enormous wildfire that churned through mountains northeast of Los Angeles and into the Mojave Desert was still threatening homes on Monday and was one of more than two dozen major fires burning across California.

Five of the largest wildfires in state history are currently burning and more than 5,600 square miles (14,500 square kilometers) have been charred, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, Gov Gavin Newsom said.

At 165 square miles (427 square kilometers), the Bobcat Fire is one of the largest ever in Los Angeles County after burning for more than two weeks. It was only about 15 per cent contained.

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for thousands of residents in foothill and desert areas, where semi-rural homes and a popular nature sanctuary have burned.

Statewide, at least 23,000 people remain evacuated, Newsom said.

No injuries have been reported for the fire about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

However, 18 homes and other buildings have been destroyed and 11 damaged, some in the Juniper Hills area, with the toll rising to perhaps 85 when damage assessment teams can complete their work this week, fire officials said Monday evening.

Erratic winds that drove flames into the community of Juniper Hills over the weekend had died down, said US Forest Service spokesman Larry Smith.

"It's slightly cooler too, so hopefully that will be a help to firefighters," Smith said.

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