Up in smoke, May 19

19 May 2014

Summer bush fires routinely scorch parts of California. But this year, after an uncommonly dry winter, fears of a particularly destructive fire season are coming true. In the past week, with the season still young, nearly a dozen fires raged across 8,093 hectares of parched brush in San Diego county. As firefighters brought the blazes under control, officials and residents of some 15,000 evacuated homes and businesses began to assess the damage. The Cocos Fire, one of the region’s fiercest, levelled at least two structures in San Marcos and one man was charged with arson in connection with one of the smaller fires. The smoke blew 160km north to Los Angeles, obscuring the sky and offering a reminder of the state’s dangerous conditions. Photographers from Reuters, the Associated Press and the European Press Agency captured the haunting images.