California wildfire destroys dozens of homes in desert town, leaves 1 dead

One person was killed and dozens of homes destroyed after a fast-moving wildfire tore through a Southern California desert town near the Salton Sea, officials said Monday.

The blaze began Sunday night in Niland, a small, poor agricultural community about 100 miles from San Diego.

The Imperial County Public Health Department said on Twitter that about 40 homes were estimated to have been lost, but the fire has since been contained.

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The Calipatria Fire Department told KESQ-TV that one body was found among fire damage in the town and authorities are investigating.

A wind-driven wildfire has destroyed about 40 homes and forced evacuations as it tore through the rural town of Niland in the Southern California desert near the Salton Sea.

A wind-driven wildfire has destroyed about 40 homes and forced evacuations as it tore through the rural town of Niland in the Southern California desert near the Salton Sea. (Battalion Chief Joseph Bernal/El Centro Fire Department via AP)

The fire, spread by strong winds, forced the evacuation of the entire township.

Niland, with a population of about 1,000, is at the north end of an agricultural region that stretches south to the U.S.-Mexico border.

This June 28 photo provided by El Centro Fire Department shows a wildfire burning through a section of Niland, Calif.

This June 28 photo provided by El Centro Fire Department shows a wildfire burning through a section of Niland, Calif. (Battalion Chief Joseph Bernal/El Centro Fire Department via AP)

Imperial County spokeswoman Linsey Dale told the Associated Press that about 130 people were dispatched to the blaze.

“It’s very devastating in that area right now,” Dale said.

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Every local fire truck and firefighting team responded and firefighting help also came from elsewhere.

This June 28 photo provided by El Centro Fire Department shows a wildfire burning through an section of Niland, Calif.

This June 28 photo provided by El Centro Fire Department shows a wildfire burning through an section of Niland, Calif. (Battalion Chief Joseph Bernal/El Centro Fire Department via AP)

The American Red Cross Southern California Region said it was working to provide shelter.

A temporary shelter was set up at Calipatria High School where assistance to displaced residents was being offered.

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The fire is the latest blow to California’s Imperial County, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 500 patients were moved to hospitals in other counties over the past five weeks to relieve strain on the county’s health care system.

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As of Tuesday morning, there are 223,646 coronavirus cases in California with at least 5,983 deaths.

Critical fire weather danger continues across the West through Tuesday.

The fire danger continues across the West and Southwest on Tuesday.

The fire danger continues across the West and Southwest on Tuesday.

Hot temperatures, low humidity, dry lightning and gusty winds will bring an elevated risk of critical fire weather across the Southern Rockies, High Plains and Southwest.

Fox News’ Adam Klotz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed