California officials say monetary damages from this week's wildfires in the state will likely top one billion dollars, as blazes driven by strong winds continue to burn out of control.
The fires burning across nearly 170-thousand hectares of southern California have destroyed nearly 15-hundred buildings and forced more than half a million people to flee their homes. Five people have died and at least 40 others have been injured, including at least 24 firefighters.
Police are investigating possible arson in at least one of the fires. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says at least 68-thousand homes remain at risk. State and local firefighters are getting aid from the federal government, including fire crews, helicopters and air tankers. More than 8-thousand firefighters are battling the blazes.