Relentless Santa Ana winds continue to fan devastating California wildfires


Evacuations have been ordered and a wider area has been told to be ready for orders to leave.

While the winds are not yet as strong as they were Tuesday, the worst of the dry and windy weather is yet to come, with gusts of up to 90 miles per hour predicted in some areas tonight and Thursday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Harrison.

As firefighters continues to battle wildfires across Southern California, there is now another blaze, this latest one in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Officials hope the electronic push will keep the whole region alert and keep the death toll from the week's fires at zero.

The Thomas fire has burned at least 65,000 acres. Each of the fires was at just 5 percent containment or below as of Wednesday afternoon.

"It's heartbreaking for the Californians and we don't want to go back because we know what it's going to look like when we get there", Holmes said Wednesday. Santa Ana winds are gusting and humidity is low, making prime conditions for a spark to spread flames quickly, far and wide.

Dozens of schools across the area canceled classes on Thursday.

In the San Fernando Valley area in north Los Angeles near the community of Sylmar, the so-called Creek Fire has burned more than 11,300 acres and prompted 110,000 people to be evacuated from the area, officials said.

The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains on the city's western side.

Fire Department spokesman Margaret Stewart says the fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday and is burning uphill, driven by topography rather than winds.

She said firefighters stepped in to douse the flames with the aid of helicopters and that other storage sheds, the winery itself and the estate's unoccupied house are not damaged.

The same vicious winds that made three Southern California wildfires so destructive are also making the firefight itself more hard.

Southern California has already been hit hard by three major fires that have put tens of thousands of people under evacuation orders and destroyed at nearly 200 homes and buildings, a figure that is almost certain to grow.

"Winds have died down to allow fire department to get some control, but high winds/Santa Ana winds coming tonight", Freeman said via text message.