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High heat and winds hamper Southland wildfires

Crews are battling two major wildfires in Southern California.
(Edward Lawrence CBS News Reporting)

An early start to the wildfire season is putting crews to the test in Southern California.

Hundreds of acres are charred in two fast-moving blazes in Riverside County and Ventura County.

Firefighters battled flames right at the edge of a freeway in Ventura County, about 50 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. 

Heavy winds are sending up huge plumes of smoke over homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. 

The blaze started on Thursday and has scorched at least 100 acres.

Firefighters are also trying to hold the line on a fast moving wildfire that started shortly after noon on Wednesday in the City of Banning. 

Thousands of acres have already burned. Air tankers dropped water to douse hot spots and bulldozers cut breaks to stop flames from spreading. The fire threatened several homes forcing residents to pack up and go. 

Evacuated residents have been told they can return, but firefighters expect conditions to be even worse than they were on Wednesday because of 20 to 30 mile per hour winds and unseasonably high heat.

"Were seeing fire behavior we'd see in July or August," said one firefighter. 

More than 650 firefighters are battling the flames in Banning and they have to do it in temperatures that could reach the mid-nineties. That's about 20% hotter than usual. 

The dry land is sparking fires across the state and fire officials say fire activity is up 60% statewide, meaning it's going to be a very long fire season. 
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