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California wildfire prompts hundreds of home evacuations

(Reuters) - Hundreds of firefighters on Sunday were battling a wildfire in southern California that prompted the evacuation of about 500 homes, local officials said.

The Shirley Fire was only five percent contained and burning over 800 acres, sending smoke plumes across the Kern River Valley, about 130 miles (209 km) north east of Los Angeles.

Mandatory evacuations of about 500 homes in proximity to the blaze northeast of the city of Bakersfield started Saturday, according to a statement from the Kern County Sheriff's office.

Nearly 300 firefighters were working to contain the wildfire, which broke out Friday and has been fanned by winds and dry conditions, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Warm temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity through Wednesday could complicate firefighting efforts, according to Accuweather.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Scott Malone and Mark Potter)