California fires forces thousands to flee homes


December 06, 2017
In this photo provided by the Ventura County Fire Department, firefighters work to put out a blaze burning homes early Tuesday, in Ventura, California. Authorities said the blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn't burned in decades. (Ryan Cullom/Ventura County Fire Department via AP)

SANTA PAULA, California (AP):

Ferocious Santa Ana winds raking southern California whipped explosive wildfires Tuesday, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of homes.

The biggest blaze broke out Monday in Ventura County and grew wildly to more than 48 square miles (124 sq kilometres) in the hours that followed, sheriff's sergeant Eric Buschow said.

Another fire erupted on the north edge of Los Angeles, threatening the Sylmar and Lakeview Terrace neighbourhoods, where residents scrambled to get out.

At least 150 structures had burned so far in Ventura County, officials said. Officials did not immediately say what type of buildings burned, but TV reports showed homes in flames, as well as the Vista del Mar Hospital.

More than 27,000 people have been evacuated, and one firefighter was injured in Ventura County. After initial reports of a fatality, county fire Captain Steve Kaufmann said a dead dog, but no person, was found in an overturned car.

The winds were pushing the fire toward Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometres) northwest of Los Angeles. Many of the evacuated homes were in that city.

However, evacuation orders were expanded to houses in Ventura, which is 12 miles (19 kilometres) southwest and has 106,000 residents.

Wind speeds at some locations in Ventura County were well over 60 mph (96 kph) early Tuesday.

Forecasters said winds would continue through Thursday.

Nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura County area were without power, Southern California Edison said on Twitter.

All schools in the Ventura Unified School District were closed yesterday.