California wildfires grow in size as flames reach Rupert Murdoch vineyard

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The largest and most destructive of the wildfires in southern California has grown to 140 square miles and fire officials have said the worst may be yet to come.

The 90,000-acre fire burning in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles, has swept through ridges and canyons to the sea and Santa Ana winds that drove it are expected to return with a vengeance overnight.

State fire director Ken Pimlott said winds that eased in the afternoon could return with gusts up to 80mph on Thursday that would make it impossible to fight the fire.

Dozens of homes have burned since the blaze erupted on Monday. Nearly 1,800 firefighters and a fleet of aircraft are fighting the flames but the blaze is only 5% contained and an estimated 12,000 buildings are in danger.

Earlier a wildfire in a wealthy western area of Los Angeles reached an estate and winery owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Roxanne Langer at Moraga Vineyards in Bel Air said a temperature-controlled wine storage shed burned after the fire erupted before dawn, but it was unclear how much wine was lost.

She said firefighters stepped in to douse the flames with the aid of helicopters and that other storage sheds, the winery itself and the estate’s unoccupied house are not damaged.

The winery, bought by Mr Murdoch for about 30 million dollars in 2013, has been evacuated.

Ms Langer said it appeared the seven acres of vines suffered only slight damage and the grapes already had been harvested.

In a Facebook statement, Mr Murdoch said some neighbours suffered heavy losses and his thoughts and prayers were with them.

On Wednesday firefighters managed to stop the spread of a wildfire that has destroyed homes near the world-famous Getty museum in Los Angeles.

Crystal Shore examines damage in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles (Chris Carlson/AP)
Crystal Shore examines damage in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles (Chris Carlson/AP)

Deputy Fire Chief Charles Butler said firefighters and aircraft stopped the growth of the 475-acre blaze in the Bel Air neighbourhood.

Mr Butler said four homes had been destroyed and 11 damaged since the blaze erupted before dawn on Wednesday in an area that includes many hilltop mansions.

About 700 homes, an apartment building and a school were ordered evacuated.

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