California wildfires: New evacuations amid warning over strong winds

New evacuations have been ordered in California as officials warn wildfires could spread because of extremely strong winds.

Some 50,000 residents in the towns of Windsor and Healdsburg, north of San Francisco, have been told to move.

Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) said it would turn off power in 36 counties for 48 hours or longer, affecting up to two million of people.

There are fears wind gusts could hit power lines, causing new fires.

A state of emergency has been declared in Los Angeles and Sonoma counties, and thousands of firefighters were still battling flames.

What's the forecast?

The Kincade Fire, which started on Wednesday, has burned through 25,455 acres (10,300 hectares) of land in Sonoma County, one of California's best-known wine regions.

The fire was burning in remote steep terrain making access difficult, the state fire department said. On Saturday, it was about 10% contained.

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Winds in the region were expected to pick up from 20:00 local time on Saturday (03:00 GMT on Sunday) and gusts were forecast to hit 85mph (137km/h).

The National Weather Service issued a "red flag" warning for areas around the Kincade Fire, which had destroyed some 50 structures.

On Saturday, PG&E warned about 940,000 homes and businesses could be impacted by the power cut between Saturday evening and midday on Monday.

The warning from PG&E came as the company faced scrutiny over its possible role in the fires.

In suburban Los Angeles, the Tick Fire had charred 4,615 acres and was 25% contained, according to county officials. All residents who were told to evacuate have returned home.

Nine structures were destroyed but no injuries were reported.

'Seconds to get out'

BBC correspondent Peter Bowes lives in the Santa Clarita area north of Los Angeles, where the Tick Fire has been raging.

"My partner was in the house and had just seconds to get out, to pick up the dog, throw the dog in the car – gently – just get out. It happened that quickly and all our neighbours did exactly the same thing," he said.

He later tweeted photos of the devastation.

What's caused the wildfires?

According to a Read More – Source