the five Ws
Your primer to an issue in the news
In California - in the Los Angeles region from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
Who has been affected? A quarter of a million people have been evacuated from the region. And at least one person has died and thousands of homes are at risk in seven counties where fires have scorched some 80,937 hectares.
Officials are blaming the record summer heat wave, which has left the ground tinder dry. Erratic winds have fanned the flames.
When will the fires stop? With forecasters predicting that hurricane-force winds will continue this week, thousands more homes could be at risk.
How has California reacted? About 1,500 National Guardsmen have been brought in to help fire-fighters. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger described it as a 'tragic time' for the state.