Spreading ‘Fire Tornado’ Nears Oil Terminal

Hundreds of people have been forced to leave their homes in California over the threat from a huge wildfire to an oil processing terminal.

Spreading Fire Tornado

A fleet of aircraft has been dropping water and retardant on the wind-driven blaze which has been burning out of control in rugged coastal canyons west of Santa Barbara, California.

Hundreds of firefighters are employed tackling the fire which is said to be covering about 1,400 acres.

Some firefighters have told of a flame vortex – described as looking like a “fire tornado” – jumping across freeways and spreading the blaze rapidly.

California’s famous coastal freeway Route 101 has been closed along a section west of Santa Barbara and several canyons, campsites and beaches have been closed.

Among the famous properties in the area is Rancho del Cielo, which was used by President Ronald Reagan as a holiday home.

The fire was about a mile from the ranch but was said to be moving away from it at midday on Thursday, officials said.

Strong gusts and rising temperatures across the dry western US have sparked a number of wildfires in other states.

Temperatures are forecast to reach triple figures in Fahrenheit (at least 37.7C) over the weekend in California.

About 1,000 homes are said to be at risk, including many used as ranches with livestock on the property.

The blaze has been nicknamed the Sherpa Fire after a ranch in the area where it started.

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