California wildfire injures 6, doubles in size

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More than 1,600 Californian firefighters are battling a blaze east of Los Angeles that has injured six people and forced hundreds to flee their homes, authorities said on Friday (Saturday in Manila).

The fire is estimated to cover 18,000 acres (7,200 hectares), a figure that has nearly doubled since Thursday.

Those injured include five firefighters and a civilian, the Riverside County Fire Department said.

As of Friday the fire had destroyed 29 buildings, mostly homes, and was only 40 percent contained.

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Two of the firefighters were overwhelmed by heat, and the condition of the other three has not been made public.

The civilian victim was wounded on Wednesday, the day the fire broke out, and was airlifted to a burn center, Fire Chief John Hawkins earlier told reporters.

Eight helicopters were being in use to fight the fire, which on Thursday forced the evacuation of 1,800 people in several towns near Banning, (150 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Some of those residents were allowed to return home on Friday.

Authorities have not determined what set off the fire.

The effort to douse the flames is being complicated by high temperatures, very low humidity and wind gusts, weather forecasters said. AFP

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