200000 people flee Southern California as wildfires continue to rage

Olive Hawkins
December 7, 2017

Dozens of homes have been destroyed in this view of the Thomas fire from helicopter on December 5, 2017, in Ventura County.

Early Wednesday morning, both sides of the freeway had to be shut down, but the southbound 405 was later re-opened.

Commanders hoped to have them back in the air on Wednesday morning, but all indications were that the winds will be whipping then too, fanning the flames that spurred evacuation orders for almost 200,000 people, destroyed almost 200 homes and remained mostly out control. The company positioned fix crews and equipment in areas most likely to suffer wind damage.

Lord said the restaurant wasn't in immediate danger, but she anxious that the winds would pick up overnight. More than 300 personnel from the Los Angeles Fire Department are on the scene and are being supported by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, LAPD and the Angeles National Forest and CalFire, officials said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Ventura County, promising to attack the fire "with all we've got".

Three firefighters were injured and hospitalised in stable condition, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the gusty winds expected to last most of the week had created a unsafe situation and he urged 150,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders to leave their homes before it's too late.

High winds caused another wave of wildfires to erupt on Tuesday night, including one in Los Angeles' affluent Bel-Air neighborhood.

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"The danger is imminent", Cal Fire said in its evacuation notice.

US President Donald Trump tweeted a message of "thoughts and prayers" to California as it nears the end of its deadliest year ever for wildfires. Fire officials said the weather was making it hard for aircraft and helicopters to fight the blazes.

A major Santa Ana weather event with wind gusts between 70 and 80 miles per hour, and low relative humidity are to blame for the Skirball fire, which is threatening Los Angeles' affluent Bel Air neighborhood, officials said.

Elsewhere in Santa Clarita, the Rye Fire has grown to 7,000 acres since it began on Tuesday morning.

For instance, a fundraiser for the biggest of the fires, the Thomas fire, has been established by a combination of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services, the United Way, the Red Cross, and it's now accepting donations.

Melissa Rosenzweig, 47, was briefly back home Wednesday after evacuating from her Ventura house, which has been spared so far while most on her street had burned in the largest and most destructive of the region's fires.

One of the wildfires may have finally met its match, though.

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