31 Aug 2009

Fire fighters killed battling California blazes

10:25 pm on 31 August 2009

Two fire fighters have died in California as they battled intense wildfires to the north of Los Angeles.

The fires, fuelled by record temperatures, are now threatening over 12,000 buildings, according to officials.

Residents of 10,000 homes have been told to evacuate. State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger described the blazes as "still totally out of control", the BBC reports.

About 2,000 fire fighters are trying to contain the fires, which have burnt more than 170 square kilometres of forest.

County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said the two firefighters died when their vehicle rolled off a hillside near Mount Gleason in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday.

The fires were burning out of control in all directions, state officials said, but emergency crews are concentrating their efforts on the fast-moving northern edge of the inferno.

Fire fighters are also trying to stop the flames from spreading up Mount Wilson, in the Angeles National Forest near the city of Pasadena, where many broadcast and communications antennas and a historic solar observatory are located.