Residents of southern California were forced to flee their homes on Tuesday as roaring flames drove them out of their communities in Ventura County and in some parts of Los Angeles County as well.
Officials declared a state of emergency in Ventura County where more than 150 homes have been burned to the ground so far. At least 27,000 people have been forced to evacuate with at least three different wild fires — the fast-moving Thomas fire in Ventura County, and the smaller Creek and Rye fires — jumping areas and spreading rapidly from one place to another.
Some 50,000 acres in a 70-square-mile area went up in flames within just a few hours, prompting first responders to go door to door to urge people to leave while they still could.
At least one local hospital was evacuated as well.
“Powerful Santa Ana winds intensified the fires. Forecasters with the Los Angeles office of the National Weather Service warned the region is in the midst of its strongest and longest Santa Ana wind event of the year, the earth observatory NASA site reported. Forecasters issued red flag warnings for Los Angles and Ventura counties through December 7, noting that wind gusts of 80 miles (130 kilometers) per hour are possible.
Equally problematic is the issue of inadquate water pressure, and power outtages. “There’s been zero containment so far,” a local reporter said. “The flames are moving extremely fast, with winds up to 40 miles per hour, and gusts up to 60 and 70 miles per hour in some places fueling these fires.”
The windy conditions and risk of wild fires stretches from San Diego south of Los Angeles to Ventura north of the city, both along the Pacific coastline.