The sunshine state is on fire again. But this time the south of the county is being badly hit.
Thousands of people from Ventura were evacuated yesterday as ferocious wildfires swept into large parts of the city, some 60 miles north-west of Los Angeles.
An estimated 27,000 people were evacuated, and over 30,000 acres destroyed, with 150 structures in the city destroyed by the fire.
Hundreds of thousands of people remained without power. Some 100,000 people from Ventura were ordered to be evacuated. Press reports outlined how: “Fire officials were blunt about the blaze, saying that it was out of control and that structures throughout the area were under serious threat”
As dawn broke over California yesterday, the LA Times reported that “the destruction appears to be much worse as the sun rose … revealing fire sweeping through whole neighborhoods in the hills above Ventura.”
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief, Mark Lorenzen, said at a news conference. “Really, Mother Nature is going to decide.”
He added: “The fire growth is just absolutely exponential. “All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures.”
Officials expected more acreage to be consumed by the fires and this is exactly what has happened. Tweets by the Ventura Fire service show the growing problem during the day:
#ThomasFire – incident commander reporting winds are increasing, expect fire behavior to increase over the entire incident. #VCFD
— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) December 5, 2017
Later the Service tweeted: “Fires are breaking out across the so. Cal. Region… Be fire safe. Firefighters are working very hard to minimize damage to property. Evacuations are taking place in many places in Southern California”
One local resident, Gilbert Acevedo, told the media: “It’s pretty bad. Hasn’t been like this. Maybe 15 years is the last time it happened, and that time it burned maybe to the back of the yards – everywhere.”
The fire was so bad that late yesterday, California Governor, Jerry Brown, declared a state of emergency in Ventura County, calling the fire “very dangerous”. The Fire Department also confirmed that there had been one fire-related fatality.
By the end of yesterday, authorities were warning of greater a dangerous “multiday event” across the area, with forecasters saying the region faces “extreme fire danger” through at least tomorrow. Indeed, the National Weather Service later warned that high winds would continue into tomorrow too.
It has already been a bad year for California and wildfires after 40 people were killed in the Northern part of the state in October.