California wildfire spreads quickly

By AAP Newswire

A fast-moving wildfire driven by strong winds and high temperatures has torn through homes north of Los Angeles, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.

The blaze, one of dozens across the region, broke out in a building in Goleta, California at about 8.30pm local time on Friday, spreading to vegetation before burning up to 20 other buildings, fire officials said.

Video footage showed firefighters battling fires at several homes, as Santa Barbara County authorities said at least 2200 residents were evacuated and 2000 were without power, according to a Twitter posting.

Dozens of fires have broken out across the western US, fanned by scorching heat, winds and low humidity.

The first death attributed to them was announced on Friday, when the remains of an unidentified person were found in a home burned to the ground by the Klamathon fire, which broke out Thursday near California's border with Oregon.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County, where flames have destroyed homes, forced the evacuation of about 400 people, knocked out power and temporarily forced the closure of Interstate 5, a major north-south artery running the length of California.

In San Diego County, a blaze dubbed the West Fire that broke out near the community of Alpine on Friday was spreading quickly.

Downtown Los Angeles set a record for July 6 when temperatures reached 35C by midmorning before climbing to more than 41C in the afternoon.

In southern Colorado, a steady rain overnight slowed the growth of the largest wildfire in the state, which has blackened nearly 42,900ha and destroyed at least 141 buildings since it ignited on June 27.