Forest / Wild Fire in USA on December 05 2017 09:51 AM (UTC).
A day after it was declared the largest officially recorded wildfire in state history, crews gained 78 percent containment of the monster fire, a big increase from the 65 percent containment of 24 hours earlier. As of Saturday night, the fire covered 273,400 acres. Officials said 1,573 personnel were assigned to the wildfire, which has destroyed 1,063 structures and damaged 280, according to authorities. On Saturday, there was increased activity in interior portions of the fire due to higher temperatures and low relative humidity, authorities said, but there was no threat to containment lines. In a Saturday night update, officials said the front-country fire perimeter is secure and that crews were building upon previous gains by securing established containment lines adjacent to communities and other infrastructure. Mop-up operations along the fire perimeter are ongoing and repair work is underway to mitigate impacts from fire-suppression activity. Firefighting crews and aircraft remain available to address flare-ups or new fire starts, officials said. As long as there was no significant wind, no major flare-ups were expected Saturday night, and an expected increase in relative humidity was expected to lead to diminished fire activity. Crews fighting the blaze continue to employ a wide variety of strategies. North of Ojai, firefighters conducted a controlled burn along Cherry Creek Road near Highway 33. The goal was to remove burnable vegetation ahead of the portions of the fire that are not contained, authorities said. Helicopter infrared detectors sensed heat in an area within Los Padres National Forest known as Bear Heaven, leading aircraft to drop water in the rugged, remote terrain. No more controlled burns are planned, officials said. On Friday night, leadership over Thomas Fire efforts changed hands from Cal Fire to the U.S. Forest Service. The transition was due to the movement of the fire's active burning area from land under state jurisdiction to land under federal jurisdiction within Los Padres National Forest. However, Cal Fire will continue to assist with fire-suppression and recovery efforts as needed, according to authorities. Victoria Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Thomas Fire response, said residents should report all active fire so authorities can allocate resources to combat it. "Residents should call 911 if they see something burning near a fire line," Cruz said. Smoke may be visible at times due to interior hot spots that come to life as dry weather conditions persist, officials said. Smoke and ashfall from these flare-ups may occur in some areas such as Rose Valley and Ojai, officials said. According to the National Weather Service, winds from 10-20 mph are forecast for the Ventura County mountains over the weekend. The winds will help clear out residual smoke in the area, resulting in good air quality for most of Ventura County, according to the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. A warning has been issued to residents in the upper Ojai Valley regarding pollutants released into the air from burning natural oil seepage. Most standard-issue face masks do not protect from the volatile organic vapors created when crude oil burns, according to authorities. Authorities also reissued a warning that those near the fire perimeter may see an increase in wildlife displaced by the flames. People who encounter animals are encouraged to stay a safe distance away, refrain from feeding them and contact animal-control agencies if they perceive a threat to their safety. An active investigation into the cause of the fire is underway. Cal Fire is in charge of another investigation regarding the death of Cal Fire Engineer Cory Iverson. Iverson lost his life Dec. 14 due to burn injuries and smoke inhalation while fighting the Thomas Fire outside Fillmore. A celebration of life was held Saturday in San Diego honoring Iverson. His widow, Ashley Iverson, spoke at the ceremony, as well as his brother Luke Iverson and Chief Tony Mecham of Cal Fire's San Diego unit. The U.S. Forest Service said firefighters working the Thomas Fire during the holidays are appreciative of all the local community support they are receiving, but that they are not in need of donations. "While we appreciate the public's volunteer spirit and desire to donate, we simply don't have the infrastructure to accept donations, especially food, which is carefully regulated in fire camp by health and safety ordinances," the agency said in a statement. "The best gift you can give us is to give to those in need this holiday season, especially those folks who have been impacted by the Thomas Fire. Give us a warm smile, a wave, a cute poster by the roadway, but please give your financial support and donated supplies to local assistance organizations." The agency suggested a few organizations that could use your help, but added, "there are also many others nearby who can really use your help. It's always a good idea to call first to confirm specific needs."
While crews got a break from slightly calmer winds on the lines of the enormous blaze threatening Santa Barbara County, much of the rest of Southern California was buffeted by powerful gusts that increased the wildfire risk across the region. The National Weather Service forecast red flag conditions for extreme fire danger through Sunday evening for Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Trees came down after wind gusts topped 70 mph (113 kph) in mountain areas and 50 mph (80 kph) along the coast. With winds threatening to bring down power lines and spark more wildfires, Southern California Edison is considering turning off electricity to some parts of Malibu. Utility spokesman Paul Griffo says the coastal city is particularly vulnerable if strong Santa Ana winds continue to batter the area. A five-county funeral procession has begun for a firefighter killed while battling the colossal wildfire that's still threatening homes in Southern California. An autopsy found Cory Iverson died from burns and smoke inhalation. Firefighters and police stood at attention as Iverson's body left the medical examiner's office in Ventura County shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday. The procession will wind through Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties. Iverson's body is bound for a funeral home in San Diego, where the 32-year-old was stationed. The state fire engineer was killed Thursday at the so-called Thomas fire. The blaze is also blamed for the death of a 70-year-old woman who died in a car crash on an evacuation route. The fire has burned more than 700 homes and currently threatens communities in Santa Barbara County. One of the largest wildfires in California history is now 40 percent contained but flames still threaten coastal communities as dry, gusty winds are predicted to continue. Winds calmed overnight but seaside communities in Santa Barbara counties were warned again Sunday that they're still at risk if unpredictable gusts whip up once more. Some 8,000 firefighters are deployed to the so-called Thomas Fire, which has burned for nearly two weeks and still threatens 18,000 homes. Parts of the city of Santa Barbara and the hillside enclaves of Montecito and Carpinteria remain under evacuation orders. However in neighboring Ventura County, where the fire started, officials lifted some evacuation orders early Sunday. A funeral procession is planned Sunday for Cory Iverson, the 32-year-old firefighter killed Thursday while battling the flames.
A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara. "It is a beast," Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson told a news conference. "But we will kill it," he said. Nearly 8,500 personnel using nearly 1,000 engines and 32 helicopters were battling the blaze, which was 40 percent contained on Saturday evening. It has become the seventh-most destructive in state history, officials said. A new evacuation order was issued for parts of Santa Barbara County on Saturday as high winds whipped the fire through bone-dry terrain. In Montecito, smoke billowing from nearby canyons and pushed by the high winds choked the air, hindering aircraft from dropping flame retardant, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services said. The wildfire forced many schools to close for days, shut roads and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. It was also responsible for poor air quality throughout Southern California. An evacuation order for the city of Ventura, which was hit hard in the first days of the fire, was lifted on Saturday morning. "Our backyard, it's like a rain of ash. I don't even want to step back there," said Janet Harrington, 56, an artist and writer who grew up and lives in Ventura. Her son Ryan said: "I can count 10 people who lost their homes. My best friend from high school, his mom's house burned down." The total cost of fighting the fire had come to more than $110 million by Saturday evening, as flames blazing over steep hills lit up the night skies. The 13 days of shifting winds and evacuations have taken their toll on a weary population. Paul Pineda, who lives in Fillmore, about 55 miles (90 km)northwest of Los Angeles and on the eastern flank of the fire, said he will flee if the blaze gets too close. "It's pretty crazy. Went to sleep last night about midnight and then woke up to the roar of this fire coming through about 3 a.m." Pineda said. This year has been unprecedented for California in terms of structures lost and the size of the wildfires, officials said. Five of 20 most destructive fires in recorded history ravaged the state in 2017, according to Cal Fire. The vast landscape charred by the blaze, centered fewer than 100 miles (160 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, reached 267,500 acres (108,253 hectares) late on Saturday. The largest wildfire in state history was the 2003 Cedar blaze in San Diego County that consumed 273,246 acres and caused 15 deaths. The hot Santa Ana winds have propelled the fire's expansion, at times sending embers far ahead of its main flank. They were forecast to gust at up to 50 mph (80 kph) on Sunday with critical fire conditions remaining through Monday, National Weather Service forecasters said. Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, died on Thursday while battling the flames near the Ventura County community of Fillmore. Fire officials said Iverson, the blaze's first fatality, left behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter. He died of smoke inhalation and burns, the Ventura County Medical Examiner's office said.
A raging California wildfire powered by fierce winds grew into the third-largest in state history on Saturday as forced evacuations turned neighborhoods into ghost towns and ash fell in some areas like heavy snow. High winds and dry conditions were expected to remain through the weekend to power the so-called Thomas Fire in Southern California. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures and threatened 18,000 more since erupting on Dec. 4, including homes in the wealthy enclave of Montecito just outside the coastal city of Santa Barbara. "It is a beast," Santa Barbara County Fire Department Division Chief Martin Johnson told a news conference. "But we will kill it," he said. Nearly 8,500 personnel using nearly 1,000 engines and 32 helicopters were battling the blaze, which was 40 percent contained on Saturday evening. It has become the seventh-most destructive in state history, officials said. A new evacuation order was issued for parts of Santa Barbara County on Saturday as high winds whipped the fire through bone-dry terrain. In Montecito, smoke billowing from nearby canyons and pushed by the high winds choked the air, hindering aircraft from dropping flame retardant, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services said. The wildfire forced many schools to close for days, shut roads and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. It was also responsible for poor air quality throughout Southern California. An evacuation order for the city of Ventura, which was hit hard in the first days of the fire, was lifted on Saturday morning. "Our backyard, it's like a rain of ash. I don't even want to step back there," said Janet Harrington, 56, an artist and writer who grew up and lives in Ventura. Her son Ryan said: "I can count 10 people who lost their homes. My best friend from high school, his mom's house burned down." The total cost of fighting the fire had come to more than $110 million by Saturday evening, as flames blazing over steep hills lit up the night skies. The 13 days of shifting winds and evacuations have taken their toll on a weary population. Paul Pineda, who lives in Fillmore, about 55 miles (90 km)northwest of Los Angeles and on the eastern flank of the fire, said he will flee if the blaze gets too close. "It's pretty crazy. Went to sleep last night about midnight and then woke up to the roar of this fire coming through about 3 a.m." Pineda said. This year has been unprecedented for California in terms of structures lost and the size of the wildfires, officials said. Five of 20 most destructive fires in recorded history ravaged the state in 2017, according to Cal Fire. The vast landscape charred by the blaze, centered fewer than 100 miles (160 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, reached 267,500 acres (108,253 hectares) late on Saturday. The largest wildfire in state history was the 2003 Cedar blaze in San Diego County that consumed 273,246 acres and caused 15 deaths. The hot Santa Ana winds have propelled the fire's expansion, at times sending embers far ahead of its main flank. They were forecast to gust at up to 50 mph (80 kph) on Sunday with critical fire conditions remaining through Monday, National Weather Service forecasters said. Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, died on Thursday while battling the flames near the Ventura County community of Fillmore. Fire officials said Iverson, the blaze's first fatality, left behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter. He died of smoke inhalation and burns, the Ventura County Medical Examiner's office said.
Ever since the Thomas fire erupted Dec. 4, it has steadily burned its way up the list of California's largest wildfires since the Great Depression. That list however does not include what some consider to be California's largest known wildfire - the 1889 Santiago Canyon fire, which scorched 300,000 acres in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. The official California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection list of the top 20 wildfires dates back only to 1932, because records before then "are less reliable," the department says. The largest fire on the list is the 2003 Cedar fire, which burned more than 273,000 acres and killed 15 people. By Friday morning, the Thomas fire had burned 252,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and was 35% contained. However, a forecast of heavy wind gusts overnight and through the weekend threatened to push that acreage figure even higher. Under such circumstances, the Thomas fire could ultimately grow larger than the Santiago Canyon fire, according to one expert. "The Thomas fire is still going and it potentially could exceed that 300,000-acre estimate," said Jon Keeley, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at UCLA. "It could end up being the biggest fire." Back in the 1930s, the U.S. Forest Service compiled a list of all fires in California, with records going back all the way to 1861, according to Keeley. "These are estimates though, because going back that far, essentially all you have are newspaper reports," Keeley said. "There's been big fires off and on ever since. ... Large fires are not unknown in California by any means. The one thing that perhaps is different is we're getting more of them now than we did historically." Since the Civil War, half of Southern California's largest wildfires have occurred in the last 15 years, according to a paper authored by Keely. The reason for the increase? Humans. "Historically, if you look in the past when there are relatively few people on the landscape, a significant number of the fires were being started by lightning," Keely said. "And lightning doesn't occur during Santa Ana wind events. There was just a much lower probability of an ignition coinciding with Santa Ana winds. Today, however, most fires are triggered by people. "As people increase on the landscape, we have a much greater chance that they're going to ignite fires. Perhaps by arson, or more people on the landscape means more infrastructure such as power lines that could cause fires. We think that the increased incidence of big fires is most directly tied to people, more people and more badly timed ignition."

Keely notes however that the Thomas fire is a "real anomaly," because it is tied to an unusually long Santa Ana wind event. "Normally when we get a strong Santa Ana wind event, it lasts two or three days and then the winds die down and the fire is then contained," Keely said. "But this fire is occurring during a Santa Ana wind event that apparently isn't even over yet. ... The longer the Santa Ana winds blow, the larger the fire grows. That's an important characteristic of the Thomas fire." The Santiago Canyon fire ignited under Santa Ana wind conditions and that was coupled with the fact that there were very few people on the landscape to fight that fire, Keely said. Contemporary news reports said the fire began in a sheep herder's camp. In a recent paper on fire and climate, researchers evaluated the correlation between the number of Santa Ana wind events each year and the area burned and found no relationship. "We get Santa Ana winds every year. It's just, some years, somebody ignites a fire during them, and when that happens, they tend to get really large," Keely said. "But the really large ones, we found, were related to prior drought." He pointed to the 2003 Cedar fire, which was preceded with more than a year of drought. "We think that this fire, the Thomas fire, is likely very large in part not just because the Santa Ana wind event is long, but there was this very extreme drought between 2012 and 2014." Often drought is thought of as affecting the fuel moisture of vegetation. But researchers' analysis suggests otherwise, Keely said. "What extreme droughts do is they cause dieback of the vegetation," he said. "Basically a canopy of the vegetation dies and oftentimes the entire plant dies. So you have lots of dead vegetation out on the landscape from the drought. And when the Santa Ana winds blow embers ahead of the fire front, they'll ignite spot fires, but only if they land on dead vegetation." The USGS is now gearing up to start a study to look at the amount of dieback in the Thomas fire prior to this fire event, he said. "I suspect there must have been a lot of dead vegetation and that enhanced that fire," Keely said.
This is the stunning 'apocalyptic glow' that has formed over California as authorities battle a wildfire the size of Singapore. It was filmed in the coastal city of Morro Bay and shows a smoky glow in the skies over the state, which is enduring the fifth biggest fire in its history. The blaze, which has been named the Thomas Fire, has now burned an area of more than 230,000 acres around 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles . The clip was posted on Twitter by David R Purl, who wrote: "Apocalyptic smoky glow in Morrow Bay from Thomas Fire 10 Dec 2017. "God bless the Responders!" Strong wind gusts of up to 40mph and extremely low humidity that are expected through Thursday will continue to pose a challenge to firefighting efforts, the National Weather Service said. "That combination of winds and very low relative humidity leads to critical fire conditions and can allow for a potential of significant fire growth and fire behavior," National Weather Service incident meteorologist Rich Thompson said at a community meeting on the fire on Monday evening. About 7,000 firefighters were battling the blaze that has destroyed about 800 structures including more than 680 homes, Cal Fire said. Dry vegetation that has not burned in 50 years is acting as fuel for the fire in the mountains southeast of Santa Barbara and northwest of Ventura, spokesman Ian McDonald said. "Because the slopes are so steep and the terrain is so rocky, it is actually quite dangerous," he said. "We are not going to put firefighters in harm's way half way up a steep rocky slope. "We are going to wait for the fire comes to us and extinguish it where it is safe." Public schools in Santa Barbara and some school systems nearby have cancelled classes this week and will not reconvene until the annual winter break is over in January, said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. Some of the other fires burning over the past week in San Diego and Los Angeles counties have been largely controlled by the thousands of firefighters on the ground. The Creek and Rye fires in Los Angeles County were both at least 90% contained, officials said, while the Skirball Fire in the posh Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles was 85% contained. North of San Diego, the 4,100-acre (1,660 hectare) Lilac Fire was also 90 percent contained on Monday, after destroying 151 structures.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of Carpinteria and Montecito in Santa Barbara County, California, as winds caused the so-called Thomas Fire to flare up Sunday morning. According to the Associated Press, nearly 500 buildings are lost and hundreds of thousands are still evacuated as a result several major fires through Southern California. Areas north of Carpinteria from Toro Canyon Road east to the county line and north of Highway 192 as well as portions of Montecito east of Buena Vista Drive to the county line and north of Highway 192 were placed under mandatory evacuation orders on Sunday, according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management. Additionally, the evacuation warning for Montecito, Carpinteria and Summerland were expanded. Santa Ana Winds will continue a high fire danger on Sunday throughout Southern California, weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce said. The winds should subside in the week ahead, but humidity will remain low and no rain is in the forecast for the foreseeable future. After touring Ventura County neighborhoods Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown called wildfires in winter "the new normal," according to the Associated Press. "This is the new normal, and this could be something that happens every year or every few years - it happens, to some degree. It's just more intense, more widespread, and we're about ready to have firefighting at Christmas," Brown said. Officials allowed some residents to return home Friday and survey the damage in a San Diego County community where the so-called Lilac Fire forced 10,000 to flee. The fire has burned 105 structures and torched more than 6 square miles of land, according to CalFire. It wasn't immediately clear how many of those structures were homes, the report added. The fire remains 20 percent contained as of Saturday morning, but as it moved away from the town of Fallbrook, those no longer in harm's way were allowed to return to their properties. The blaze was responsible for killing 25 racehorses as it destroyed about eight barns at a training facility in northeastern San Diego County, the AP also said. Trainers and staff were forced to cut hundreds of horses loose because the fast-approaching flames didn't allow them enough time to evacuate all the animals, the report added. "There was so much smoke it was difficult to see," trainer Dan Durham told the AP. "Some of the horses were turned loose so they could be safe. They were scattered around." Three people were burned trying to escape the fire that sparked Thursday as the fast-moving blaze overran a mobile home retirement community. The fire destroyed more than a third of the 213 mobile homes, the AP reports.
Wildfires in southern California killed a woman as they destroyed more than 500 buildings, killed dozens of horses and forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate. Burning nearly 250 square miles since Monday, blazes whipped up by ferocious winds were blown quickly over huge areas near Los Angeles. Authorities said 1,000 firefighters have been battling the flames with help from a fleet of air tankers and helicopters. On Friday, the first fire-related death was confirmed by the Ventura County medical examiner's office. Virignia Pesola, 70, of Santa Paula, was found dead on Wednesday night along an evacuation route near a fire northwest of Los Angeles. Her death was caused by crash injuries, smoke inhalation and burns, the medical examiner's office said in a statement. Driven by dry desert Santa Ana winds that surpassed 35 mph, some of the blazes have been too fast for firefighters to stop the flames. "The crews were trying to stay out ahead of this as quickly as they could," said Captain Kendal Bortisser of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention. "As we know, when a tornado hits the Midwest, there's no stopping it. When a hurricane hits the East Coast, there's no stopping it. When Santa Ana winds come in, there's no stopping them," Capt. Bortisser said. Firefighters northwest of Los Angeles gained some control over the largest and most destructive fire in the state, which destroyed 430 buildings. The blaze in Ventura County grew to 206 square miles after igniting on Monday, while a fire 50 miles north of San Diego ignited for unknown reasons and destroyed at least 85 structures as it burned 6 square miles. Fire crews made enough progress against other large fires around LA to lift most evacuation orders. Horse trainers took stock of the damage at the elite San Luis Rey Downs training facility for thoroughbreds in Bonsall, where many of the more than 450 horses were cut loose to prevent them from being trapped in burning stables. Most of the loose horses were corralled and taken to another location, but about 25 died as barns and pasture burned. Crews were also dispatched to stamp out a small new fire that began to the east in the Cleveland National Forest near the mountain town of Alpine.
California's newest wildfire tore through retirement communities built on golf courses and killed elite thoroughbred horses in its first destructive day. The new blaze, in San Diego County, means a huge swath of Southern California is now in flames. December's shockingly dry, hot and windy conditions brought on unprecedented fire danger. The San Diego-area fire quickly grew to more than 6 square miles and burned dozens of homes at Rancho Monserate Country Club. Flames engulfed a horse training center, prompting trainers to unlock stables and encourage hundreds of race horses to run for their lives. It's not clear how many died. The destructive blaze broke out as firefighters tried to corral the largest fire in the state, which was burning around Ventura 130 miles to the north. It destroyed at least 439 buildings as it grew to 180 square miles since Monday. Fire crews also fought large fires around Los Angeles. The Ventura and L.A.-area fires put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders. According to CalFire, as of very late Thursday night, six large fires had burned 220 square miles, 190,000 residents were evacuated, 23,000 homes were threatened, 500 were confirmed destroyed and there were 5,700 firefighters on the lines. A woman was found dead in a wrecked car in an evacuation zone near the city of Santa Paula, where the Ventura County blaze began Monday night, but officials couldn't immediately say whether the accident was fire-related. Authorities reporting on the six major wildfires said the number of structures destroyed or damaged had raced past the 500 mark early Friday, with 439 destroyed and 85 damaged in the Thomas fire alone. California Governor Jerry Brown asked President Trump to declare a state of emergency for Southern California to aid state and local efforts to fight the historic wildfires burning in the region, Brown's office said late Thursday. The request follows emergency proclamations by Brown for San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The magnitude of the wildfire siege in parts of Southern California continued to worsen Wednesday, with more than 100,000 people forced from their homes and authorities warning of the return of dangerous winds on Thursday. As predicted, the winds picked up Thursday morning, with gusts topping 50 mph in some areas. That pushed the various fires in different directions, forcing new evacuations in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In anticipation of the heavy winds, all Los Angeles Unified schools in the San Fernando Valley, as well as 17 schools on the city's Westside, will be closed for the rest of the week, district officials said Wednesday afternoon. The decision closes at least 265 schools in neighborhoods affected by the wildfires raging in and near Los Angeles. On Wednesday, firefighters and residents from Ventura County to Los Angeles used the calmer conditions to try to make headway in advance of Thursday's expected winds. Brent Clark, 58, stood on the roof of his Faria Beach home in northern Ventura County and began watering it down. Not far away, past the railroad tracks and Highway 1, flames made their way down the hillsides as they burned through acres of chaparral. Looking at the flames, Kay Clark, 58, turned her attention to a cypress tree across from their home. "That tree worries me," she said. "Everything depends on what the winds do," Brent Clark said. On Tuesday night, residents of Faria Beach were told to evacuate as flames made their way over the ridge of the canyons and approached the small beach community. Among those who evacuated was Joe Ruffner, 65. "The wind was blowing north, south, sometimes it seemed like it was doing both at the same time," Ruffner said. Nearby, Jim Petit, 82, used a generator to keep power flowing to his home. He said he put five gallons of gasoline into the generator that morning and was using a timer to keep track of how much it took and when he needed to refuel it. Petit and Kay Clark shared one certainty. "We're not out of it yet," Petit said. "We're not out of it. We're still not out of the woods," she said. Fears of more winds were also evident in the neighborhoods of Sylmar hit hard by the Creek fire. That fire started about 4 a.m. Tuesday and quickly raced out of control as powerful Santa Ana winds pushed it toward houses below.

The fire has destroyed at least 30 homes and scorched 12,605 acres, authorities said. As crews continue to fight the blaze, some residents are beginning to assess the damage to their foothill properties. The blaze was 5% contained, and residents had been evacuated from an area covering more than 20 square miles. The fire jumped the 210 Freeway and burned in Shadow Hills to the south, where residents scrambled to evacuate hundreds of horses, alpacas and other animals. About 20 of the 30 homes that have burned were in Little Tujunga, Kagel and Lopez canyons, officials said. Farther north, in Santa Clarita, firefighters were making significant gains against the Rye fire that had burned toward Magic Mountain on Tuesday afternoon. The fire briefly shut down access to the 5 Freeway from Highway 126 and triggered mandatory evacuations. Roy DeFilippis, 69, and his wife, Yolanda, 66, were on vacation and excited to spend a nice, relaxing afternoon at a campground west of Santa Clarita when the Rye fire started. The couple has been on a road trip for weeks, starting out at their home in Nova Scotia and traveling to Simi Valley to spend Thanksgiving with their daughter and her family. Driving thousands of miles, they faced several challenges. Their RV broke down in Kingman, Ariz., and again as they were traveling in California toward Simi Valley. Roy DeFilippis almost lost control going down a mountain. On Tuesday afternoon, he was watching TV, considering whether to drink more coffee or switch to cold beer. "And all of a sudden, we hear sirens and sirens, and police came out and told us we had to evacuate," he said. Walking out of their RV, the couple saw flames as tall as their motor home. They ditched the Honda Civic they'd been hauling. There was no time. They ensured that their most precious cargo - their eight Yorkies: Spike, Zoey, Lacey, Madison, Spencer, Mickey, Sammy and Snickers - were in the RV, and they rushed onto Highway 126. Late Wednesday morning, they were parked on a gravel lot between Santa Clarita and Fillmore, waiting until the campground was reopened at noon. They weren't sure whether their car survived. But Roy DeFilippis, a retiree from Florida, felt that because they were safe from the fires, it just made for a good story to tell his friends. "Life is a true adventure, isn't it?" he said. The Rye fire has burned 7,000 acres and was 5% contained Wednesday. All evacuations and road closures have been lifted.
At least 27,000 people have been evacuated because of forest fires that can not be controlled for more than 24 hours ago. The critical situation is in the Ventura County north of Los Angeles. The fire has already destroyed 150 buildings and spreads quickly because of the strong winds blowing around the area, reports sega. 125 km are covered by flames, as the storm approaches the city of Santa Paula (population 30,000), where most of the residents are evacuated. Hundreds of thousands of households are without electricity, schools in the area are closed. Thousands of firefighters are involved in fighting fire, local police reported. In October, fires in the northern part of the state killed 43 people, about 10,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged by fire.
Pushed by powerful Santa Ana winds, a fire spread with explosive speed in just 19 hours to 50,000 acres, about 78 square miles, Tuesday afternoon in Southern California's Ventura County, destroying dozens of buildings and forcing thousands to evacuate in the dark. By Tuesday afternoon, none of the fire had been contained. The fire prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in Ventura County Tuesday. "This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we'll continue to attack it with all we've got," Brown said. "It's critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so." "Fires are breaking out across the so. Cal. Region... Be fire safe. Firefighters are working very hard to minimize damage to property. Evacuations are taking place in many places in Southern California," the Ventura County Fire Department tweeted. The fire began north of Santa Paula on Monday evening and spread into the edges of Ventura, a city of more than 100,000 people situated on the Pacific coast, the county sheriff's office said. The fast-moving fire forced sheriff's deputies to scramble into neighborhoods and knock on doors to warn residents to evacuate. By early Tuesday the fire had burned 31,000 acres in nine hours -- covering an area more than twice the size of Manhattan at a rate of nearly an acre per second.
A fast-moving, wind-fueled wildfire swept into the city of Ventura early Tuesday, burning 50,000 acres, destroying homes and forcing more than 27,000 people to evacuate. About 3,000 homes were threatened by flames, a firefighter was injured and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Ventura County on Tuesday morning, as some 1,000 personnel continued to battle the Thomas fire. At least 150 structures - including at least one large apartment complex and the Vista Del Mar Hospital, a psychiatric facility - were consumed by flames. But Cal Fire suspects the true number is hundreds more; firefighters just haven't been able to get into areas to know for sure. The fall weather sequence helped spark the Thomas fire, which as of 5 p.m. Tuesday was 0% contained and moving west, fire officials said. In the last couple of years, the rains came before the Santa Ana winds. But this year, with no rain in three months, the winds hit dry fuels. "This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we'll continue to attack it with all we've got," Brown said. "It's critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so." The state sent resources to help with firefighting efforts as authorities expanded mandatory and voluntary evacuation areas, and opened new shelters throughout the county. Ventura County officials have asked the state for eight fixed-wing firefighting aircraft to help douse the flames, said Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Donoghue. The blaze started about 6:25 p.m. Monday in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, a popular hiking destination. It grew wildly to more than 15 square miles in the hours that followed - consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said. "The burn area is pretty much all the mountains between Ventura and Ojai and extending east to Santa Paula," Donoghue said. "It's a challenge because of the enormity of it, and it's a challenge because it's pretty rugged terrain." Power outages also caused problems for firefighters Monday night and rendered some pumping systems inoperable, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann. Some hydrants couldn't get water pumped to them because there was no power, he said. At one point in Ojai, the entire water system went down, including hydrants and drinking water, because a pumping system was damaged by the fire, Kaufmann said. On Tuesday morning the water district had sent people to Ventura to repair the problems, but he did not know status of the repair. "It definitely presented a challenge to us," he said. By 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities had ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire community of Casitas Springs, northwest of Ventura. The evacuation area spreads from the northern portion of Highway 33 into Ojai, said Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Stan Ziegler. The county also issued a voluntary evacuation order for all parts of Ojai Valley not under mandatory evacuation. In addition to the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura and Nordhoff High School in Ojai, evacuation centers have been set up at the Oxnard College gymnasium and Santa Paula Community Center. The size of the fire will likely grow, Ziegler said. Authorities are still seeing "erratic fire behavior and erratic winds so it's making the firefight very difficult," Ziegler said. Aircraft are available for firefighting efforts, but will usually only drop retardant when winds are below 30 mph, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean. About 7 a.m., the wind appeared to be pushing the fire east toward Camarillo and north toward Ojai, said Ventura County Sheriff's Senior Deputy Tim Lochman. On Tuesday firefighters continued trying to save homes in Ventura, where the fire was active. They faced a red-flag wind advisory that notes ridgeline winds of 35 to 45 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. Winds are expected to decrease somewhat in the afternoon, said Chad Cook, Ventura County Fire Department division chief.

The fire hopscotched through hillside neighborhoods Monday night, burning some homes and sparing others. Some residents hoped the worst might be over in the early hours of the morning when the wind died down. But it picked up with a fury around daybreak, causing more destruction. Engulfed in flames, the Hawaiian Village Apartments above central Ventura collapsed about 4 a.m. Water gushed down North Laurel Street as firefighters worked to put out the flaming complex and residents watched, holding cameras and cellphones. The sound of bursting propane tanks filled the air. Hundreds of firefighters working through the night tried to prevent the blaze from spreading, block by block, as they were confronted by wind gusts of up to 50 mph. One firefighter was hit by a car while he was protecting homes. He was at a hospital, said Ventura County Fire Capt. Scott Quirarte. Fire officials said the intensity of the fire, coupled with the high winds, made it pretty much unstoppable. Schools in the Oxnard, Ventura, Hueneme and Santa Paula school districts were closed Tuesday. California authorities have secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in firefighting efforts, the Office of Emergency Services announced Tuesday morning. Fire officials expected flames would rip through at least 50,000 acres in the mountains between Santa Paula and Ventura. The destruction comes in what was already the worst year on record for wildfires in California. Forty-four people were killed and more than 10,000 structures were lost when fires swept through Northern California's wine country in October. The Thomas fire's movement bears some similarity to Northern California's Tubbs fire, which ravaged the town of Santa Rosa and killed more than 20 people in October, McLean said. The Thomas fire has moved almost as quickly as the Tubbs did, with winds pushing flames that started north of a community into a city, he said. Like the Tubbs, there are access issues with the Thomas fire because of the topography, McLean said. What's different, though, is that authorities began the morning of the Tubbs firefighting more than a dozen blazes in the area, whereas the Thomas fire is currently the greatest threat in Southern California. The Creek fire, near Sylmar, was at 11,000 acres early Tuesday afternoon and had destroyed at least 30 structures. There were no confirmed fatalities in the Thomas fire as of 2 p.m., authorities said. Southern California has been under red-flag weather conditions since Monday, with "the strongest and longest duration Santa Ana wind event we have seen so far this season" expected through at least Thursday, the National Weather Service said. The dry, gusty Santa Ana winds will continue for at least the next three days, the National Weather Service said. "Generally, it's awful fire weather today, tomorrow and Thursday," said forecaster Ryan Kittell. "The winds we're seeing right now are ... plenty strong to drive a fire." It doesn't matter that the winds are relatively cool compared to typical Santa Anas because wind gusts are so powerful and dry, he said.
A wind-whipped wildfire exploded early Tuesday in Southern California, forcing more than 27,000 people to evacuate and causing at least one death. Ventura County Fire officials said "The Thomas Fire" broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, located about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The fire has grown to 31,000 acres has destroyed 150 structures, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. "The prospects for containment are not good," Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a news conference. "Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out because it is pushing hard with the wind." Officials said one person had died in an auto accident related to the fire, but did not give any details. An injury to a firefighter has also been reported, according to officials. There is zero percent containment of the fire, officials said at a Monday night press conference. A total of 500 firefighters are battling the fire, and power outages have been reported in Santa Paula, Camarillo, Ventura and Santa Barbara. Southern California Edison said nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura County area were without service. The fire is currently burning chaparral, a brush that has not burned in 20 years. The cause of the fire is undetermined. "The fire growth is just absolutely exponential," Lorenzen said. "All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures." Authorities say Ventura, a city of over 100,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire soon. Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has also been evacuated. Evacuation shelters have been set up at the Miners Building at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and Nordhoff High School, FOX11 Los Angeles reported. Residents located outside the evacuation zone watched the blaze shift along the nearby hills overnight, and debated whether they should stay or go. The National Weather Service said winds of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the area, and are expected to continue throughout the day.