World

Nine dead, 35 missing in US wildfire

By AAP Newswire

Two monster wildfires are burning out of control in northern and southern California, having already killed at least nine people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed the fires on forest mismanagement and threatened to withdraw related federal funding.

In Los Angeles County, the 14,200 hectare Woolsey Fire was threatening 75,000 homes and more than 200,000 people were under mandatory evacuation early on Saturday.

Some of the evacuation orders were for residents within the City of Los Angeles in the West Hills area. It was unclear how many homes have been evacuated within the City of Los Angeles.

About 800km to the north, nine people were found dead in and around the Northern California town of Paradise, where more than 6700 homes and businesses were burned down by the Camp Fire.

That made it one of the most destructive blazes in state history, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire protection data.

"This event was the worst-case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a Friday evening press conference. "Regrettably, not everybody made it out."

Trump early on Saturday tweeted that "gross mismanagement of forests" was to blame for the two unchecked wildfires.

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," he wrote in a Twitter post.

"Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!," he added.

The remains of five of the victims in Northern California were discovered in or near burned out cars, three outside residences and one inside a home, Butte County's Honea said.

Another 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters had been injured.

The flames descended on Paradise so quickly that many people were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thursday and quickly jumped the 101 Freeway, a major north-south artery, in several places. On Friday, it moved over the Santa Monica Mountains toward Malibu, where flames driven by hot Santa Ana winds gusting up to 80km/h raced down hillsides and through canyons toward multi-million dollar homes.

Thousands of residents took to the Pacific Coast Highway to head south or took refuge on beaches, along with their horses and other pets.

Among those forced to flee were celebrities including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, who said on Twitter that flames had damaged the home she shares in nearby Calabasas with Kanye West.

"Fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu," the city said in a statement online. "All residents must evacuate immediately."

Some 95,000 residents have been evacuated in Ventura County alone, the county's fire department said on Twitter on Friday night.

The blaze also threatened parts of the nearby town of Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people earlier this week in a shooting rampage.