Firefighters are still battling to tame a massive blaze that has raged for 10 days near California's Big Sur coast, destroying dozens of homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

California wildfires
A helicopter makes a water drop during the Soberanes Fire off of Rancho San Carlos Road near Carmel ValleyMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A swimming pool scorched dry is seen at the site of a destroyed house after the Soberanes Fire burned through the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
The roof tiles are all that remain of a burnt-out property north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A burned exercise bike overlooks the remains of a destroyed propertyMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Melted bottles lie on the ground at the site of a destroyed home north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A destroyed home is seen after the Soberanes Fire burned through the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A firefighter from Cal Fire's Fresno-Kings unit sprays water on a backfire while fighting the Soberanes Fire on Palo Colorado Road near Big SurNoah Berger/Reuters

The so-called Soberanes Fire, which erupted on 22 July just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, has consumed 62.5 square miles (161.87 square kilometres) of drought-parched timber in and around the Los Padres National Forest. The wildfire has destroyed 57 homes and 11 outbuildings and is threatening 2,000 more structures.

Extremely hot, dry weather is still hampering the efforts of some 5,300 firefighters, 16 helicopters, a half dozen air tankers and 500 fire engines. By Sunday morning (31 July) it was only 18% contained. A bulldozer operator hired by property owners to help battle the flames was killed when his vehicle rolled over.

California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A cross is seen at the site where bulldozer operator Robert Reagan was killed while fighting the Soberanes Fire, in the Palo Colorado area north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A charred slope smoulders after the Soberanes Fire burned through the area in the mountains above Carmel HighlandsMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
The burned-out landscape is seen through the window of a vehicle on a destroyed property in the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
The skeletal remains of a garden structure are seen on a property north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A charred Buddha statuette is seen in the garden of a destroyed home in the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A charred Virgin Mary statuette is seen in the garden of a destroyed home in the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A burnt-out vehicle vehicle sits on a property that was heavily damaged by the Soberanes Fire in the Palo Colorado area, north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A firefighter walks through the burned remains of a home in the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A bicycle sits among the debris of a destroyed home in the Palo Colorado areaMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A message of thanks is written on the dust-covered rear window of a Big Sur resident's vehicleMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Cookies left by a resident await firefighters battling the Soberanes Fire in Carmel-By-The-SeaNoah Berger/Reuters
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Dried fire retardant dropped from an aerial tanker covers a shrub in the mountains above Carmel HighlandsMichael Fiala/Reuters
California wildfires
A vehicle covered in fire retardant dropped from an aerial tanker sits parked on the side of Palo Colorado Road, north of Big SurMichael Fiala/Reuters

The fire threat has prompted authorities to close a string of popular California campgrounds and recreation areas along the northern end of the Big Sur coastline, including Point Lobos Natural Reserve.

Officials do not expect the fire to be fully contained until the end of August because parts of it are burning in steep and inaccessible terrain. Its cause is under investigation. Four people who escaped the Big Sur fire acknowledged growing marijuana in the area, Monterey County sheriff's Sgt. Kathy Palazzolo said. It's illegal to cultivate marijuana in California except for medicinal purposes, but it is common throughout coastal Monterey County, south of San Francisco.

However, there was no evidence to suggest the fire was sparked by marijuana cultivation, Cal Fire spokesman Robert Fish said.

Meanwhile, fire crews have nearly surrounded a 65-square-mile (168.35-square-kilometre) blaze on the outskirts of Los Angeles. This particular fire killed one man and destroyed 18 homes. It was more than 93% contained by Sunday (31 July), nine days after it broke out in suburban Santa Clarita and spread into the mountainous Angeles National Forest, officials said. Authorities have not determined the cause.

California wildfires sand soberanes fire
A charred pirate sculpture stands outside a destroyed property in Santa ClaritaDavid McNew/Getty Images
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Burned mailboxes lie in a charred forest in Santa ClaritaDavid McNew/Getty Images
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Residents and family members return to a home that was burned down in Santa ClaritaDavid McNew/Getty Images
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Residents return to a home that was destroyed by fire in Santa ClaritaDavid McNew/Getty Images
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
The ruins of a home destroyed by flames are seen in Santa ClaritaDavid McNew/Getty Images
California wildfires sand soberanes fire
Firefighters watch as a helicopter drops fire retardant on a blaze off Placerita Canyon Road in Santa ClaritaFrederic J Brown/AFP

The drought that has gripped California for several years, along with a bark beetle infestation, has desiccated trees in the area, providing ample fuel for the fire that is already aided by high temperatures and winds.