Southern California wildfire forces 1,500 to flee homes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Crews were battling a major Southern California wildfire on Tuesday that has destroyed at least one structure and forced 1,500 people to flee their homes amid high temperatures and gusty winds.

The so-called Canyon Fire, which broke out in the Santa Ana Mountains east of Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, charred more than 2,000 acres by Tuesday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Some 900 firefighters had been called in to protect homes in and around the city of Corona, assisted by water-dropping aircraft and bulldozers, the agency said.

The Canyon Fire erupted during an intense fire season across the U.S. West.

Nearly 41,000 individual wildfires of all sizes have scorched more than 6 million acres in the United States so far this year, well above the 4.2 million acres burned on average over the last 10 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman