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Wildfire Closes California's Historic Hearst Castle

  • VOA News

This photo provided by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shows smoke billowing from a wildfire near Lake Nacimiento in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., Aug. 20, 2016.

This photo provided by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shows smoke billowing from a wildfire near Lake Nacimiento in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., Aug. 20, 2016.

A wind-driven fire in central California has forced the closing of the historic Hearst Castle.

The fire in San Luis Obispo county has destroyed 48 structures and burned more than 8,000 hectares since August 13 and is about four kilometers from from the popular tourist attraction that houses a large art collection that belonged to William Randolph Hearst.

Meanwhile, officials say the Blue Cut wildfire in Southern California that has destroyed more than 300 homes and outbuildings is 80 percent contained. The fire has burned more than 15,000 hectares in the mountain areas of San Bernardino County 120 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles.

The Blue Cut fire burns in Upper Lytle Creek near Wrightwood, Calif., Aug. 19, 2016. Area residents were still being kept from their homes Saturday, even though evacuation orders were lifted for tens of thousands of others in Southern California.

The Blue Cut fire burns in Upper Lytle Creek near Wrightwood, Calif., Aug. 19, 2016. Area residents were still being kept from their homes Saturday, even though evacuation orders were lifted for tens of thousands of others in Southern California.

No deaths have been reported in the Blue Cut fire, officials said, adding that an investigation into the cause of the blaze continues. At its height, the wildfire threatened more than 34,000 homes, and more than 82,000 residents were told to evacuate.

Firefighters are battling at least six other wildfires in the western U.S. state.

Firefighters water down scorched compost material at a property burned near Phelan, Calif., Aug. 19, 2016.

Firefighters water down scorched compost material at a property burned near Phelan, Calif., Aug. 19, 2016.

A five-year drought has left huge swaths of land with dried trees and brush.

Between January 1 and August 13, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported 3,874 fires that have burned 45,700 hectares and killed seven people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This week, nearly 30 major wildfires have burned about 850 square kilometers in eight western U.S. states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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