California wildfire: mass evacuation in Ventura country

06 December, 2017, 01:13 | Author: Kim Reid

Firefighters are battling a huge wildfire in southern California that has already burned almost 10,000 acres and forced the evacuation of thousands in the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura.

Photo Downtown Santa Paula, Calif., was darkened by a power outage Tuesday morning, as smoke from the Thomas Fire rose in the distance. More than 800 homes were evacuated there.

Fire crews from Northern California were dispatched south, as Cal Fire moved 10 fire trucks and crews.to be pre-positioned to south of the Tehachapis.

At least two structures have burned so far, officials said.

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"It was just exponential, huge growth because the winds, 50 mile an hour out of the east, were just pushing it and growing it very, very large, very quickly", Lorenzen said shortly after sunrise.

Authorities have given evacuation notices to "well over 30,000" residents in the cities of Santa Paula and Ventura.

"A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are expected", the weather service said.

The fire also struck some key transmission lines, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers. It grew to more than 100 sq km (40 sq miles) by the early hours of Tuesday, consuming vegetation that has not burned in decades, the Ventura county fire sergeant Eric Buschow said.

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"I'm not going to wait around for someone to come rescue me so I'm outta here", said June Byrum. The fire erupted near Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Adding to the difficulty of fighting this fire, the National Weather Service predicts continued high winds and low humidity throughout the week.

"The prospects for containment are not good", Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told a late night news conference.

Shelters have been set up a local school and county fairgrounds for evacuees.

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