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California Wildfire Triples in Size Under Hot, Dry Conditions

The so-called Sand fire keeps growing — it's at more than 33,000 acres so far — fueled by dry brush, soaring temperatures and winds.
Image: Southern California Sand Fire Grows To 20,000 Acres
Firefighters are forced to retreat as flames from the Sand fire close in on them Sunday in Santa Clarita, Calif.David McNew / Getty Images

A wildfire driven by erratic winds and exceptionally dry conditions continued to rage Monday near Los Angeles, with firefighters likely still days away from getting it under control.

The so-called Sand fire in Angeles National Forest has grown by about 10,000 acres a day since it was first reported Friday afternoon, authorities said.

By Monday evening, it had grown beyond 33,000 acres, with only 10 percent of it contained.

Los Angeles, in its fifth year of a drought, typically doesn't see such combustible conditions for another month.

"They're explosive right now," Chief Mike Wakoski, head of the U.S. Forest Service firefighting team heading the effort, said at a news briefing.

About 20,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes as nearly 3,000 firefighting personnel battle the blaze through windswept canyons.

In some parts, there was so much smoke that firefighters could barely see in front of their trucks, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

The fire has destroyed 18 buildings so far, with some close calls. One person was found dead inside a burned car Saturday, but investigators haven't yet disclosed the official cause of death.

Among the lost structures was the Sable Ranch, a fabled set used for TV shows dating to the 1960s, including "The A-Team, "24" and "Motel Hell."

Manager Derek Hunt told NBC Los Angeles that he was devastated by the loss but was thankful that no lives were lost as the flames roared through on Sunday.

"It came in fast. If you blinked your eye, you would have missed it," he said.

Authorities urged residents to prepare to evacuate, saying that in too many instances firefighters have been delayed by helping people who waited too long to get out.

"The fire wants to get up, it wants to run, and it wants to go through 10,000 acres and wants to threaten thousands of homes," Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief John Tripp said.

The fire compromised air quality and dropped ash on parts of Los Angeles over the weekend. As winds shifted, smoke could be seen Sunday in Las Vegas about 270 miles away.