Several large wildfires have forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Southern California, and persistent Santa Ana winds will challenge firefighters looking to contain the blazes.
The largest of five active fires, the Thomas Fire, began on Monday near the town of Santa Paula in Ventura County, California. It exploded in size during the overnight hours on Tuesday and is currently 96,000 acres and five percent contained. It is threatening 12,000 structures with many already destroyed.
In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire and Rye Fire have burned 12,605 acres and 7,000 acres respectively. Both fires triggered evacuation orders and road closures, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
On Wednesday morning, a fourth wildfire erupted, this time near the 405 Freeway in the Speulvada Pass section of Los Angeles. This fire is being called the Skirball Fire.
Santa Ana winds will continue to whip through Southern California through the rest of this week, threatening to spread these blazes and any new fires that ignite rapidly.
More lives and homes will be threatened, and residents living in the Santa Ana wind-prone areas should prepare for the possibility of needing to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
“The winds will make it difficult to get air support to these wildfires,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. “Helicopters may be able to aid firefighters, but the winds can be more problematic for larger aircraft.”
9 a.m. PST Thursday:
Los Angeles County officials say that firefighters are now battling a new wildfire in Malibu called the Horizon Fire. This is the fourth blaze in Los Angeles County, joining the Creek Fire near Sylmar, the Rye Fire near Santa Clarita and the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles.
The fifth major fire in Southern California, the Thomas Fire, is in Ventura County.
7:53 a.m. PST Thursday:
The Thomas Fire has grown to 96,000 acres and lanes have been reopened on the 101 Freeway, according to ABC7.
Ventura County officials said the…