US Raging wildfires tear through Southern California as officials warn of increasing danger

21:20  07 december  2017
21:20  07 december  2017 Source:   MSN

California wildfires: The numbers behind the blazes

  California wildfires: The numbers behind the blazes A spate of California wildfires have destroyed an area larger than New York City and Boston -- combined. And there's no end in sight. Ferocious Santa Ana winds are literally adding fuel to the fires, one week after the colossal Thomas Fire started.

— The roaring wildfires burning across Southern California threatened wide swaths of the state Thursday, forcing a wave of new The National Weather Service warned that if new fires do begin, “very rapid spread and extreme fire behavior is likely.” Officials were blunt about the potential dangers .

Four fires ripped through southern California , including in The fire forced mandatory evacuations in the Highlands, Eddingham and Adamsville neighborhoods, fire officials said. Kylie Jenner posted these images to Snapchat of a raging wildfire burning through the Calabasas area on Saturday.

OJAI, Calif. — The roaring wildfires burning across Southern California threatened wide swaths of the state Thursday, forcing a wave of new evacuations and shutting down major roadways even as authorities warned that the fire activity could worsen during the day.

Colossal California fire now 4th largest in state history

  Colossal California fire now 4th largest in state history The colossal wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles became the fourth largest in California history and authorities said it would likely keep growing and threatening communities as hot, gusty winds fanned the flames.State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas Fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties covered 379 square miles (982 square kilometers). That surpassed a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing.

The fire is tearing through Bel-Air and forcing mandatory evacuations in the area. Photo: Melissa Castro. 5, 2017. Ferocious winds in Southern California have whipped up explosive wildfires , burning a psychiatric hospital and scores of other structures.

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With flames racing across Ventura and Los Angeles counties this week, entire communities were emptied as tens of thousands of Californians and visitors grabbed what they could and fled. The infernos burned through untold numbers of buildings, creating scenes of apocalyptic destruction. Fire and choking smoke seemed to be everywhere.

The largest of the wildfires — the Thomas Fire, which spanned about 150 square miles in Ventura County, roughly the size of Denver — surrounded Ojai on Thursday morning, officials said, endangering the popular winter retreat that is normally home to about 8,000 people. Most of the Ojai Valley was under a mandatory evacuation order.

The Thomas Fire “continues to burn actively with extreme rates of spread,” officials said Thursday morning. The blaze prompted officials to shut down the 101 Freeway north of Ventura, leaving no way to travel between Ventura and Santa Barbara, the sheriff’s office said. Officials said they had evacuated more than 50,000 people from 15,000 homes, and some 2,500 personnel were responding to the fire.

The wildfires, already imperiling so many people and places, are only expected to get worse. Forecasters said raging winds on Thursday, combined with low humidity and dry areas, could help fuel new fires. The National Weather Service warned that if new fires do begin, “very rapid spread and extreme fire behavior is likely.”

Officials were blunt about the potential dangers. On Wednesday night, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl L. Osby said it was vital for “people that live in wildland areas that you sleep with one eye open tonight.”

In Los Angeles County, officials were confronting multiple fires that, while smaller, still forced scores of people to abandon their homes. The Creek Fire, burning about 20 square miles, forced its own waves of evacuations, as officials warned of “extreme” fire behavior and firefighters struggled with “high winds, poor access and steep, rugged terrain.”

The Skirball Fire, which broke out Wednesday, led to mandatory evacuations in the ritzy Bel Air area and shut down the famous Getty Center. Officials evacuated 1,200 homes across the posh hillside neighborhoods and stretching south near the University of California at Los Angeles campus. UCLA officials canceled a men’s basketball game on Wednesday and then canceled classes Thursday — just two days before final exams were to begin.

Fire officials in Los Angeles County reported yet another blaze on Thursday: The Horizon Fire, a brush fire that began burning in Malibu.

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Los Angeles officials said that 265 schools in the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles would be closed for the rest of the week as a safety measure.

Not far from the Skirball Fire, residents and visitors weighed whether to stay or go, unsure of what to do. Two roommates who live in the Brentwood area, having moved there six months earlier from Indiana, said they were uncertain facing such a new situation.

“It’s kind hard to tell when to go and when not to go,” said one of the men, 23-year-old Wes Luttrell. “We have our bags packed and are just kind hanging tight.”

Montevis Price, who was visiting Los Angeles from Miami, promptly checked out of his hotel when he saw the blaze.

“I saw the little mountain on fire and that was it,” Price said. “You can prepare for a hurricane, but you can’t prepare for something that happens all of a sudden.”

Others said they fled with little time to decide what to take.

“They gave us about 30 minutes to evacuate, so I just took my clothes,” said Monica Campo, 27, who lives in the Sylmar area. “My sister left and was complaining that she didn’t even take underwear.”

Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said at a news conference Wednesday that the index that the department uses to assess environmental conditions for the fire risk is at the highest level he has ever seen in his career.

“Our plan here is to try to stop this fire before it becomes something bigger,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said at an earlier news briefing. “These are days that break your heart. But these are also days that show the resilience of our city.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared states of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties because of the fires. More than 4,000 firefighters and other first responders fanned out across the region to save lives, protect homes and evacuate residents.

Osby, the Los Angeles fire chief, said that many of the firefighters who had been working on the fire since Monday had not slept. Hundreds of other firefighters and engines were en route from Northern California and nearby states.

“You can probably understand that most of our resources are pretty tapped,” he said.

As of Thursday morning, officials had not reported any deaths due to the fires, though some areas that had burned or were burning remained inaccessible.

“When you get those 40- to 50-mile-per-hour winds, the fire just rolls like a steam train and you have minutes to get to safety,” said Ventura City Councilman Erik Nasarenko.

He was in a City Council meeting on Tuesday when the evacuation order came.

“It was crazy,” Nasarenko said. “In the middle of the council meeting, the city manager tells me our neighborhood is on mandatory evacuation, so I raced home, grabbed the guinea pig and the kids and bolted.”

Berman and Rosenberg reported from Washington. Noah Smith in Los Angeles; William Dauber in Van Nuys, Calif.; and Travis Andrews, J. Freedom du Lac and Jason Samenow in Washington contributed to this report, which will be updated throughout the day.

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Read more:

What happens when people live in areas where natural disasters can erupt

‘The night America burned’: The deadliest — and most overlooked — fire in U.S. history

Colossal California fire now 4th largest in state history .
The colossal wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles became the fourth largest in California history and authorities said it would likely keep growing and threatening communities as hot, gusty winds fanned the flames.State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas Fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties covered 379 square miles (982 square kilometers). That surpassed a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing.

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