Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Buckskin lends a helping hand for California wildfires

Buckskin lends a helping hand for California wildfires

Fanned by gusting winds, wildfires raged in densely populated Southern California for a fourth day on Thursday, with a new blaze north of San Diego exploding in size in just a few hours and unsafe conditions forecast until Sunday.

Winds with hurricane-force gusts of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour) fueled the blazes, creating apocalyptic scenes of hillsides engulfed in billowing smoke and towering plumes of flame.

More than 1,770 firefighters and police officers were waging war with the fire in Ventura County, according to the latest incident report.

More: California fires: Why is everything burning?

The fire was only 5 percent contained as of Wednesday night.

The winds died down overnight, and that helped keep the fire from spreading, Los Angeles Fire Department Assistant Chief Armando Hogan said.

The fire is the biggest in Los Angeles since the Bel Air fire in 1961 torched the homes of the rich and famous. It means that a house is burning. California's unusual wildfire activity comes largely thanks to dry conditions in the region and the state's Santa Ana winds.

California Fire Department (Cal Fire) officials warned residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Flames from the Thomas Fire are visible on the ridges to the east of Carpinteria Thursday morning
Flames from the Thomas Fire are visible on the ridges to the east of Carpinteria Thursday morning

Firefighters across Southern California are battling four major fires, and brutal Santa Ana winds are expected to continue fanning the flames into Thursday.

"Prepare now to ensure if evacuated you and your family are ready to GO!"

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on the west side of Los Angeles - a total of 265 district schools and charter schools - were closed Thursday and will remain shuttered Friday.

Besides Bel Air, affluent Los Angeles neighborhoods between Mulholland Drive to the north and Sunset Boulevard to the south were part of the evacuation zone. "There's still a lot of smoke and day to day, month to month, they could be sent to fight the more complex fires in the region".

Officials closed USA 101 for more than a dozen miles along the coast, cutting off a major route between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties as fire charred heavy brush along lanes. Another fire that erupted Thursday in San Diego County has burned two people and destroyed at least 20 homes. The commands incident commander will notify residents of any evacuation requirements.

La Conchita, a tiny town hard against coastal Highway 101 northwest of Ventura, was threatened by flames early Thursday.

Tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate because of the Creek Fire in the hills above Sylmar were being allowed to return home Thursday evening as firefighters continue to make progress against the wind- driven blaze, which has destroyed or damaged 30 homes and scorched 12,605 acres.

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