Two dozen ​large fires force evacuations in the West

Large fires on West Coast
Large fires on West Coast 01:37

CALIFORNIA -- In the West, two dozen large fires are forcing evacuations.

One fire is tearing through mountains north of Los Angeles.

California wildfire closes in 03:14

Southern California fire crews faced a fourth day of relentless flames on Monday.

The Sand Fire has consumed at least 10,000 acres of land a day, the equivalent of 10,000 football fields.

"I have been in the fire service for 38 years," said Los Angeles County deputy fire chief John Tripp. "We have never had this kind of experience in June and July. That is a testimony to what we are going through with the drought."

More than 3,000 fire fighters are battling the blaze in 105 degree heat, on the ground and in the air.

Normally crews would let hot spots burn out. But this fire is dangerously close to the highway and homes. So, they're lighting back fires to minimize how much fuel it has.

Ten-thousand homes in the fires direct threat are under a mandatory evacuation.

The wind changed directions so many times that the speed of the fire surprised a lot of homeowners.

"It came blowing into their communities," Tripp said. "They have to run out and you have firefighters having to run in with a blow torch coming at them. We have sympathy, but just can't put them in harm's way."

Homes were saved from the fire, but while on the front line, crews had to save people in evacuated communities that had refused to leave.

Fire officials tell CBS News there is a feeling more could have been saved if they didn't have to stop what they were doing to help those residents.

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    Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.