Reports: Destructive wildfires force hundreds of thousands in Southern California to evacuate
Several large wildfires have forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Southern California, and persistent Santa Ana winds will challenge firefighters looking to contain the blazes.
The largest of three active fires, the Thomas Fire, began on Monday near the town of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California. It exploded in size during the overnight hours on Tuesday and is currently 50,000 acres and zero percent contained with many structures already destroyed or still being threatened.
In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire and Rye Fire have burned 11,300 acres and 5,000 acres respectively. Both fires triggered evacuation orders and road closures, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Santa Ana winds will continue to whip through Southern California through the rest of this week, threatening to spread these blazes and any new fires that ignite rapidly.
More lives and homes will be threatened, and residents living in the Santa Ana wind-prone areas should prepare for the possibility of needing to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
“The winds will make it difficult to get air support to these wildfires,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. “Helicopters may be able to aid firefighters, but the winds can be more problematic for larger aircraft.”
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MAP: Fire-related watches and warnings
For previous reports on the wildfires, click here.
2:28 a.m. PST Wednesday
Despite over 24 hours of swiftly spreading wildfire activity, no deaths have been attributed to the fires in Southern California. Mandatory evacuation orders now impact 200,000 people, who can shelter in one of several evacuation shelters set up around the area.
Dozens of school districts and several area colleges will remain closed on Wednesday. A full list of school and road closures, as well as important phone numbers and evacuation zones and shelters, can be found at ReadyVenturaCounty.org.
“The public did an outstanding job heeding our evacuation orders, getting out of these danger zones in a very prompt timely manner,” said Robert Welsbie, spokesman for the Ventura Fire Department.
Airplanes and helicopters are expected to “attack the fire at daybreak,” according to the Ventura County Sheriff via ReadyVenturaCounty.com. Sunrise will occur at 6:45 a.m. local time.
A resurgence of stronger winds is expected to begin on Wednesday night.
“The fire danger on Thursday may become more extreme when compared to Tuesday as temperatures are expected to be higher and the strongest winds will cover a larger area of Southern California,” warned AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
Regardless of current evacuation orders, residents in the general vicinity of any fires should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and have a plan to transport pets to a safe location.
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