VOA News

U.S. officials in California say a wildfire burning near the border with Oregon has killed one person as it continues to grow in strength.

Authorities say the fire destroyed buildings Friday and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people. They did not give details about the person who died in the fire.

The fire broke out Thursday and it grew within hours from an initial 1,000 acres to 8,000 acres with flames crossing Interstate 5 near the California and Oregon border.

The blaze is threatening 300 homes near Hornbook, California, a small town about 22 kilometers (14 miles) south of the Oregon border.

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the area.

While the fire has not yet entered Oregon, officials there are warning people near the border that they may need to evacuate quickly if the winds shift and the fire enters the state.

The blaze is one of more than three dozen wildfires in the western United States that firefighters are battling.

U.S. officials are warning that more fires could erupt in the days ahead due to hot weather and extreme winds.

A heat wave this weekend is affecting Southern California, parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah with temperatures predicted to hit well over 37 degrees Celsius (99 Fahrenheit). Parts of Los Angeles are predicted to see temperatures over 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit).

Officials say the highest fire danger in the region stretches from Los Angeles County westward as well as several counties up the coast where a north wind adds another element of concern.

Weather forecasters say there is also a possibility of thunderstorms on Sunday, with any lightning strike that hits the hot, dry region being a real danger.