Thousands forced to evacuate as brush fire erupts in Southern Calif.

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LOS ANGELES (CNN) – A wildfire is burning out of control north of Los Angeles, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes, fire officials said.

The Tick fire near Santa Clarita broke out Thursday and in just a few hours has burned about 3,700 acres, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

Authorities have ordered 40,000 people to evacuate, The Associated Press reported.

The wind-driven blaze had only scorched a couple hundred acres when it quickly exploded to more than 3,000 acres and destroyed several structures, the fire department said.

The cause was unknown.

The Agua Dulce area, where the Tick Fire is burning, was part of the ongoing intentional power outages, said Lois Bruce, a spokesperson with Southern California Edison.

The area was de-energized at about 8:50 am (local time) and blaze started at approximately 1:45pm, Bruce said.

Wind speeds in the area are sustained at about 15 mph, with gusts of roughly 30 mph, the National Weather Service said.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for homes in the northern area of Los Angeles County and several shelters were opened.

An animal protection nonprofit was scrambling to evacuate animals from their farm in Santa Clarita as a large plume of dark smoke was spotted near the property.

“Please support our efforts to activate our emergency plan! We can use all the help possible” the Gentle Barn wrote on Instagram.

The group later wrote they were able to transfer all animals out of the barn after they were ordered to evacuate.

Firefighters across California are battling several wildfires.

In Northern California, the Kincade Fire scorched 10,000 acres and more than 550 homes were placed under evacuation orders.

The blaze was fueled in part by high winds that had already prompted California electric utilities to intentionally cut power to thousands of residents.

Sarah Moon reported from Los Angeles.

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