BIG SUR, Calif. -- Crews continued to battle a massive wildfire near California's Big Sur that is threatening thousands of homes as another one broke out in Fresno County and quickly spread, prompting the evacuation of 300 homes near dry, rolling hills.
The blaze north of Big Sur grew Sunday to 62.5 square miles), state fire officials said. The wildfire had destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings and was threatening 2,000 more structures. It was 18 percent contained Sunday morning.
More than 5,000 firefighters were battling the wildfire that killed a bulldozer operator working the fire line.
The blaze, about the size of San Francisco, has also scared away tourists who are cancelling bookings after fire officials warned that crews will likely be battling a wildfire raging in steep, forested ridges just to the north for another month.
In Central California, a fast-moving fire forced people to evacuate at least 300 homes on the path of the Fresno County blaze being fueled by hundreds of dead trees. Residents of the rural area surrounded by rolling hills told reporters they scrambled to evacuate with their animals as the wind-driven blaze swept through dry slopes.
The 1,000 acres wildfire started Saturday afternoon off Gooseberry Lane and Morgan Canyon, south of the town of Prather. The blaze was 5 percent contained Sunday morning, Cal Fire said.
The fire is burning in an area with many dead trees, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
"We watched it explode, coming across Old Millerton Road, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger," Dana Bays told KFSN-TV.
Highway 168, closed from Millerton Road to Auberry Road in Prather, reopened Sunday, Fresno County Sheriff's Office said.
On the outskirts of Los Angeles, crews had nearly surrounded a 65-square-mile blaze that killed one man and destroyed 18 homes. That fire was 93 percent contained Sunday, nine days after it broke out in suburban Santa Clarita and spread into the mountainous Angeles National Forest, officials said. Authorities have not determined the cause.
Homeowners returned to a Sand Canyon neighborhood early last week, days after the raging Sand Fire tore through the area.
For some Southern California resident like John Kim, returning to the area meant picking through the remains of his home, CBS Los Angeles reported.
"The fire came from that side, like a big wave, all at one time," said Kim, who shot video before escaping.
He, his wife, and daughters all made it out safely and were able to rescue some family photos and heirlooms.
But much of his home was reduced to rubble.
"I'm not okay but again what could I say? The only thing ... we pray harder. And I'm sure that we're gonna be okay," he said.
Kim's neighbor died in his car trying to outrun the flames. The victim was a man in his 60's.
He lived on the property with a woman, who was too distraught to speak. Their home also burned to the ground.
Kim says the man who died went back to rescue his dog.
"Boyfriend went back to bring the dog and cellular phone and so on," he said. "Then, he couldn't make it."
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