California wildfires continue to grow

SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires in Southern California (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

California’s wildfires are spreading because of strong winds.

A fire in Ventura County about 60 miles (144 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles has expanded to 78 square miles (126 square kilometers) as of Tuesday afternoon.

An early morning estimate put the number of destroyed structures at around 150, but more homes have been seen burning throughout the day.

Elsewhere in California, a fire in the Lakeview Terrace and Sylmar neighborhoods of Los Angeles has expanded to 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) and another near the city of Santa Clarita is 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers).

About 60 miles (96 kilometers) east in the city of San Bernardino, a new fire is burning just 25 acres (10 hectares) but the county fire department says firefighters are being assigned to protect buildings and ambulances have been requested for three people who suffered burns.

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1:37 p.m.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Ventura County, location of the largest of wildfires currently burning in the state.

The fire 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles ignited Monday evening near the city of Santa Paula.

Winds have pushed it west into the city of Ventura, where homes continued to burn Tuesday afternoon.

The governor says the fire is very dangerous and residents must be ready to evacuate if told to do so.

His emergency declaration sets in motion state firefighting assistance to local governments and suspends rules that might hinder recovery efforts after the fires are put out.

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12:45 p.m.

An unusually bad year for California wildfires has seen more than 1 million acres (1,500 square miles) burn so far in 2017.

The latest data released Tuesday by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection covers land under both state and federal protection. The total area burned in the state this year is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

The figures released this week don’t include the wind-driven wildfires currently raging in Southern California.

State Fire Chief Ken Pimlott has told lawmakers that climate change is spawning more and bigger wildfires. Blazes on land under Cal Fire’s protection this year have burned more than twice the recent five-year average.

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11:25 a.m.

A third Southern California wildfire has broken out on the northern edge of Los Angeles, sweeping across 200 acres and closing the northbound lanes of…

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