Growing Southern California Wildfires Force 200,000 People To Evacuate


Roughly 200,000 people have been forced to flee Southern California's scourge of wildfires that as of Thursday have scorched nearly 120,000 acres and destroyed more than 150 homes as intensifying winds prompted an unprecedented warning level of purple.

That color coding labels the flames' fanning winds as "extreme" and, as one fire official has described, beyond manageable.

"There will be no ability to fight fire in these kinds of winds," Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

"At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is not 'watch the news and go about your day.' This is pay attention minute-by-minute … keep your head on a swivel," he said.

The Santa Ana winds, which blow in hot and dry from the California desert, could potentially reach hurricane-force speeds of 75 mph on Thursday, creating an "extreme fire danger," according to an alert sent by the countywide emergency system in Los Angeles.

Wind gusts have already been seen reaching 85 mph in Ventura, where the largest of the wildfires, the Thomas fire, is located.

The National Weather Service has warned that winds are expected to increase from Thursday morning through Friday, with the strongest gusts hitting 80 mph, likely seen in the mountains. Damaging gusts up to 60 mph will also be possible in the valleys and parts of western Los Angeles and eastern Ventura Counties.

"Winds this strong may down trees and power lines, causing property damage or power outages. Cross winds can make driving difficult, especially for drivers of high profile vehicles and vehicles towing trailers," the NWS advised.

A map released by the NWS paints the areas of Ventura, Orange County and San Diego with the purple warning. The winds are expected to die down to a "marginal," or yellow-colored threat, for most of those areas on Friday.

Since Monday, the Los Angeles area has been steadily surrounded by several, growing fires.

Thomas Fire:

As of Thursday morning, the Thomas fire had destroyed more than 150 homes and grown to more than 96,000 acres. It only has 5 percent containment, fire officials said.

For roughly three hours early Thursday morning, the fire forced the 101 Freeway to be closed between Routes 126 and 150. That closure eliminated all routes between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Creek Fire:

The Creek fire, which is currently raging in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, has meanwhile consumed 12,605 acres and is 10 percent contained. At least 30 homes have been destroyed because of that blaze, and 2,500 others have been evacuated, Reuters reported.

Rye Fire:

The Rye fire, northwest of Los Angeles, has grown to 7,000 acres with 15 percent containment.

Skirball Fire:

The Skirball fire, which is threatening large estates in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, has grown to 475 acres.

At a press conference late Thursday morning, Los Angeles city officials said four homes had been destroyed and 11 others damaged by the Skirball fire. Twenty percent of the fire is contained.

Among the properties affected by the blaze is the private Moraga Estate winery, which is owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

In a statement to Reuters, Murdoch said the property has been evacuated and there may be some damage to the buildings.

"We believe the winery and house are still intact," the statement read.

Lilac Fire:

Roughly 120 miles south of Los Angeles, fire crews in San Diego County on Thursday ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents in an area of Bonsall where a fast-moving vegetation fire dubbed the Lilac fire has spread to more than 500 acres. The fire is 0 percent contained, authorities said on Twitter.

Two structures have been destroyed by the fire and 12 others damaged.

Other smaller fires in Huntington Beach and Malibu were quickly put out Thursday morning, though the Hungtingon Beach blaze damaged a school and a bank, CBS Los Angeles reported.

A quarter acre was burned by the fire in Malibu but no structural damage or injuries were reported, fire officials said. NBC Los Angeles reported that roughly 200 firefighters were at the scene to extinguish it.

Though no human fatalities have been reported from the fires, there have been a number of animal deaths, as well as rescues.

Nearly 30 horses were killed at a ranch near Sylmar on Tuesday as the fast-moving Creek fire made its way through.

The owners, speaking to the Los Angeles Times, said a fire crew ordered them to flee the scene after waking to the blaze in the early morning hours.

"All I could think about was the horses, the horses, the horses. And they were like, 'Get out, get out, get out,'" Patricia Padilla, whose family owns the ranch, told the Times. "The structures can get rebuilt, but the lives of the horses can't. ... That's my biggest heartbreak."

This story has been updated with new information on the fires' developments.


More Related News

Police find guns at home of California teen who threatened school shooting
Police find guns at home of California teen who threatened school shooting

Police in California found a stash of weapons in the house of a teenage student who had threatened to shoot up his school, the Los Angeles County sheriff's department said Wednesday. Sheriff Jim McDonnell said police had arrested the 17-year-old student, who made the threat during an argument with a teacher on Friday, two days after a teenager killed 17 people in a gun rampage at a school in Florida. Police also found two handguns and 90 high-capacity ammunition magazines, the sheriff said.

California school shooting plot foiled, assault rifles found
California school shooting plot foiled, assault rifles found

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A security officer overheard a student threaten to open fire at his Southern California high school, allowing officials to thwart the plot just days after a deadly shooting in Florida, authorities said Wednesday.

Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights
Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A proposal to make California's drought-era water restrictions permanent could allow the state to chip away at long-held water rights in an unprecedented power grab, representatives from water districts and other users told regulators Tuesday.

Kevin Love says about a month until he
Kevin Love says about a month until he's back on court with new-look Cavaliers

"Just clearing out… I shouldn't say that, just getting new faces and getting new energy in the locker room has been big for us."

Sedan of missing man Joshua Thiede found in Los Angeles neighborhood
Sedan of missing man Joshua Thiede found in Los Angeles neighborhood

The vehicle of missing man Joshua Thiede, who is an Uber and Lyft driver, was found in an area of Los Angeles just east of Hollywood Monday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.