Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen


Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen

More than 5,700 firefighters from across California and the region worked to stop the spread of six large wildfires and other smaller blazes that erupted since Monday, ranging from Los Angeles up the Pacific coast to Santa Barbara County and stoked by fierce westward Santa Ana winds.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura County had burned 96,000 acres as of Thursday, making it twice as big as Washington, D.C., and almost three times bigger than the most destructive of the Napa-Sonoma fires.

All three fires were driven by the strongest seasonal Santa Ana winds so far this year.

Southern California residents and visitors fleeing the wildfires raging around Los Angeles are contending with a new problem - mapping apps that are reportedly directing them towards areas that are on fire. That move for a time shut down all access to Santa Barbara from the city of Ventura; the freeway has just been reopened, according to the CHP.

More: California fires: Why is everything burning?

A woman's body was found in a burnt-out home in Ventura County, while at least two others have suffered burns, including a firefighter.

At the Ventura County Fairgrounds, over 100 fire trucks from several states had parked on Thursday, firefighters standing or sitting outside their trucks. Nearly 1,700 firefighters and other personnel were deployed Thursday against the blaze, which was 10 percent contained as of mid-afternoon.

Evacuation orders were lifted late Thursday afternoon for most of the Creek Fire-affected area, with the exception of parts of the Shadow Hills and Riverwood neighborhoods, as well as the Limekiln Canyon area. And when the winds come down the mountains, they dry out even more. Fifty-two fire engines were deployed to the scene. Sometimes our firefighters go 24 hours without rest. Only one outbuilding was lost early Thursday, he said, but with the wind freshening, a number of new fire lines were popping up along a 15-mile stretch of Highway 150 between Ojai and Carpinteria.

"We also can look for hotspots, " Terrazas said.

"These are days that break your heart; but these are also days that show the resilience of our city, " Garcetti said.

There are three other large fires now burning; the Rye fire, the Skirball fire and the Creek fire, all of which have been exacerbated by strong Santa Ana winds.

The color-coded system showing the expected strength of the winds driving the region's fierce wildfires has reached uncharted territory, pushing past red, which means "high" into the color that means "extreme".

At the Getty, spokesman Ron Hartwig said they "feel confident we've done everything to protect the Getty and the art collection here". The Skirball fire is the smallest of the wildfires now, but its threat to heavily populated areas of Los Angeles has drawn widespread attention.

Air tankers that had been grounded much of the week because of high winds flew on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant.