Map of hot spots: See where California wildfires are growing

08 December, 2017, 10:42 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • Flames from the Thomas Fire threatened the community of La Conchita early Thursday. The fire was moving west prompting mandatory evacuations in the eastern Carpinteria Valley

Southern California residents and visitors fleeing the wildfires raging around Los Angeles are contending with a new problem - mapping apps that are reportedly directing them towards areas that are on fire.

Where there was no fire, there was fear.

The fire threatened homes toward the top of the hill on the east side of the freeway. Thousands of firefighters and other first responders fanned out to save lives, protect homes and shepherd people to safety, joined by reinforcements who flocked in from other parts of the country to help fight the flames.

"We are a long way from being out of this weather event", Ken Pimlott, director of Cal Fire, said at a briefing Thursday. The Creek fire and Rye fire also continued to burn Thursday with little containment.

The Thomas fire has now burned more than 90,000 and forced the evacuation of more than 50,000 homes.

Officials said the strong winds fanning the fires are forecast to last through Saturday, making for extremely risky conditions.

The area was clogged with thick black smoke, forcing mandatory evacuations, road closures and school cancellations. The Thomas Fire is more than three times the size of the Tubbs Fire (36,807 acres), which was the most destructive of the fires in Napa and Sonoma counties back in October.

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The fire reached a wine storage shed on Wednesday after burning at least six other properties and threatening hundreds more.

Winds will gradually weaken Friday and Saturday, officials said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, has not named any potential causes for the fires, which erupted Monday evening.

LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said red flag conditions are expected to remain in effect through the rest of the week, with gusting Santa Ana winds presenting a continuing danger of rapidly spreading blazes.

Veteran firefighters said they had not seen wildfires here with the scope of this one, now extending dozens of miles from near Santa Paula in Ventura County to the edge of Carpinteria, a city of 13,000 people.

The national weather service was predicting near hurricane-force winds for Thursday morning in the mountains and canyons of Ventura County and northwest Los Angeles County - winds that make for rapid, unpredictable fire spreading, officials said. That move for a time shut down all access to Santa Barbara from the city of Ventura; the freeway has just been reopened, according to the CHP.

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