16 Sep 2015

Homes destroyed in California blazes

7:46 pm on 16 September 2015

A blazing wildfire in northern California has grown to 270 square kilometres, with nearly 600 homes destroyed.

A statue amidst rubble from a burned out home.

A statue amidst rubble from a burned out home. Photo: AFP

The so-called Valley fire is thought to be one of the worst in the state's history, spans three counties and is still only 30 percent contained.

One woman with disabilities has died and four firefighters have been injured, while 23,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

Two dozen fires are raging in Oregon, California and Washington state.

But the most destruction is in California, where mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted in some areas so residents can return to survey the devastation.

Firefighters are scrambling to protect not only homes but the state's famed giant Sequoia trees, as the largest of a dozen fires edges ever closer to one of the national parks in which they grow.

While the Valley fire has been the most destructive, covering an area twice the size of San Francisco, a second known as the Butte fire, outside Sacramento, has claimed 166 homes.

Firefighters say it is covering 29,048 hectares and is now 40 percent contained.

Officials say fire teams have been helped by cooler weather and higher humidity, although the forecast is for higher temperatures to return at the weekend.