A raging wildfire approached a tourist town in California Thursday, leaving the popular region mostly deserted.

Firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which has burned more than 20,000 hectares near the scenic coastal area of Big Sur in central California. Many hotels and restaurants in the area have been abandoned.

Authorities ordered an evacuation of the area on Wednesday.

The blaze is one of nearly 2,000 wildfires that have erupted across California since June 20. Most of the fires have been ignited by lightning.

No deaths have been reported, but health officials have raised concerns over poor air quality.

Last week, President Bush declared a state of emergency for California and ordered federal aid to assist in firefighting efforts.

California is often hit by wildfires due to its arid climate and hot, dry winds. Last year, fires destroyed more than 200,000 hectares and some 2,000 homes in southern California.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.