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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Wildfire sweeps Los Angeles hills
The fire spread to several homes in the area

A brush fire fuelled by strong winds and dry vegetation in the hills above Los Angeles has been largely contained, say fire officials.

More than 190,00 people are without power in the city and its surrounding areas due to the fire.

Winds of up to 50mph (80km/h) fanned fires near the city's most exclusive residential areas of Beverly Hills.

One multimillion dollar home was gutted by the blaze and three others were badly damaged.

A mild, dry winter has left Southern California, an area where fires are already a regular occurrence, even more prone to wildfires.

About 200 firefighters are tackling the blazes on the southern face of the Santa Monica mountains using helicopters to douse water on the flames.

Fire 'contained'

They contained the blaze to within a square mile (2.6 sq km) in the Beverly Glen neighbourhood on the south face of the mountains.

Los Angeles fire department spokesman Ron Myers said fire broke out after powerful winds toppled power lines causing brush behind a home to ignite.

He said the fire was essentially contained but firefighters were still working because of hotspots and concerns that embers could be fanned into flames by the winds.

Smaller fires burned elsewhere in Southern California, including a 15 to 20 acre blaze in Palmdale, in northern Los Angles County.

Blacked-out signals and downed palm fronds caused traffic problems for commuters heading east out of Los Angeles.

Utility officials said they did not know when power would be restored for customers affected in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

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