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Rabbit runs by wildfire's flames in California

Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images

A rabbit runs from a wildfire burning along the Pacific Coast Highway near Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County, California, on May 3. Some 4,000 homes were threatened by a growing wildfire northwest of Los Angeles that has forced the closure of California's scenic coastal highway, firefighters said Friday.

Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters

A fire engine is parked on Pacific Coast Highway as the Springs Fire burns in the hills at Point Mugu State Park on May 3.

John Newland and Matthew DeLuca of NBC News report:

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

The so-called Springs Fire, made worse by howling Santa Ana winds and unusually dry vegetation, crept within "seven or eight miles" of Malibu around 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 in the early hours of Friday. "We've got those guys on these steep hillsides in the dark with nothing but the light of the fire and a flashlight."