Strong winds in southern California have whipped up huge and growing wildfires that have forced hundreds of people from their homes.

The brush fires have so far burned nearly 7,000 hectares of land in the San Fernando Valley, about 50 kilometers north of downtown Los Angeles. Huge clouds of smoke covered the area Thursday as some 3,000 firefighters battled to bring the flames under control. Officials say just five percent of the blaze has been contained.

The fires have injured one firefighter and destroyed several buildings.

Wildfires occur in southern California almost every year around this time, sparked by strong winds, high temperatures and a seasonal lack of rain.