California grapes threatened by giant fire
A MASSIVE wildfire has destroyed scores of buildings and threatens to raze several vineyards in California, where a prolonged drought has left vegetation tinder-dry, officials warned.
The Soberanes fire, in the coastal Big Sur tourism hot spot, has incinerated 270 square kilometres of the Los Padres National Forest since it started more than two weeks ago.
Some 5000 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is just 50 percent contained, said Rigoberto Herrera of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) on August 9.
The mountainous terrain in northern California has made the job particularly difficult, and the flames have destroyed 57 buildings with another 410 under threat, causing hundreds of homeowners to evacuate.
A bulldozer driver died battling the flames, said CalFire, while four vineyards under threat, according to Kim Stemler of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association.
Investigations into the cause of the blaze are under way. –