This photo shows a wildfire near Saratoga Springs, Utah. AP
A wind-driven wildfire destroyed homes and forced evacuations as it tore through a rural Southern California desert town near the Salton Sea, authorities said Monday.
The fire erupted on Sunday evening in Niland, a small and poor agricultural community about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from San Diego.
Damage was still being assessed but the current estimate was 20 homes destroyed and about 130 people displaced, said Linsey Dale, a spokeswoman for Imperial County.
The American Red Cross Southern California Southern California Region said it was working to provide shelter.
"It's very devastating in that area right now," Dale said.
Niland, population about 1,000, is located at the north end of an agricultural region that stretches south to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The fire was pushed by strong winds, forcing evacuation of the entire township.
Every local fire truck and firefighting team responded and firefighting help also came from elsewhere.
The fire is the latest blow to California's Imperial County, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 500 patients have been moved to hospitals in other counties over the past five weeks to relieve strain on the county's healthcare system.
Residents fled their homes as the so-called Tick Fire scorched over 4,000 acres (1,618 hectares) and was only ten percent contained by Friday evening.
The fire, dubbed the Apple Fire by local firefighters — who routinely give blazes identifying names — was reported Friday in Cherry Valley, a community about 75 miles east of Los Angeles and had destroyed at least one family home as of Saturday evening.
The National Forestry Commission of the Agriculture Ministry said on Twitter that at least 100 hectares (250 acres) were burned by afternoon and people had been evacuated from the area.
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