With gusts of wind of up to 70mph the fire spread rapidly leading to the evacuation of at least 1,000 homes
06 December, 2017, 01:14
Firefighters are battling a huge wildfire in southern California that has already burned almost 10,000 acres and forced the evacuation of thousands in the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura.
The winds were pushing it toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
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High winds continued to fuel the Thomas Wildfire in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, on Tuesday.
The fire started north of Santa Paula and burned into the Ventura city limits, pushed by strong east winds. More than 800 homes were evacuated there. "All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures". Authorities initially reported one death, but then retracted that, saying a dead dog but no person was found in an overturned auto.
"The fire growth is just absolutely exponential", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said.
Sheriff's officials said two structures had burned, but it wasn't clear what they were.
Ventura County officials said about 500 firefighters were now battling the blaze, known as the Thomas Fire, and more were being deployed.
Mandatory evacuated were placed for more than 700 homes in the area, the fire has also led to the evacuation of a nearby college.
The dry air and hurricane-force winds were expected to create "critical fire conditions" in the area starting tonight, and the forecasts indicated the region could see Red Flag Warnings up through the next four nights and days.
A fast moving wildfire engulfed an estimated 25,000 acres in less than seven hours in Southern California's Santa Barbara and Ventura counties on December 5.
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