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Winds Fuel California Wildfires

Hundreds of firefighters struggle to protect homes in path of growing fires.

(NBC News)  Southern California firefighters battled back a series of sprawling, brush-fueled wildfires on Friday, including one that had blazed a trail to the beach in Ventura County overnight and was pushing toward the upscale city of Malibu, officials said.

At least six fires of various sizes have flared up as high temperatures, low humidity and brittle brush have left the state a veritable tinderbox over the last two days.

The so-called Springs Fire, made worse by howling Santa Ana winds and unusually dry vegetation, was within "seven or eight miles" of Malibu at 2 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said.

"We've got hot, dirty, unglamorous firefighting work going on right now, guys with shovels trying to scratch out lines on the ground," Nash said early Friday. "We've got those guys on these steep hillsides in the dark with nothing but the light of the fire and a flashlight."

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