Febrero 21, 2018

California communities under siege from wind-driven fires

06 Diciembre 2017, 06:18 | Gervasio Siguenza

Irfan Khan—LA Times via Getty Images

Irfan Khan—LA Times via Getty Images

The fires are being driven by Southern California's notorious gusty and dry Santa Ana winds, which have been linked to some of the region's worst wildfires.

The fire, dubbed the Thomas Fire, raged in the foothills above and in the city of Ventura some 80km northwest of Los Angeles, fire officials said late on Tuesday, a day after it began.

Fueled by fierce fast winds and tinder dry conditions, the Thomas Fire burned hillsides in Ventura County for a third day Wednesday, scorching 55,000 acres, prompting tens of thousands of evacuations, destroying 150 structures, jumping through the 101 Freeway and prompting a state of emergency.

Some 1,000 firefighters were battling to save homes from the conflagration.

The largest plume, top left, is from the Thomas Fire, which has burned more than 50,000 acres in Ventura County.

"Unfortunately, we're still losing houses", said Capt. Stan Ziegler, a spokesman for the Ventura County (Calif.) Fire Department. Some residents were even seen fighting the fire with water hoses.

"I went outside and looked, and I saw the flames coming over the hill", he said. "These fires are not just fast and furious, but they're really expensive to fight".

"It's always difficult and somewhat dangerous to fly at night, so depending on different conditions and the geographic challenges is how they evaluate whether or not they can operate at night", Ventura County firefighter Jason Hodge told the Los Angeles Times.

"We urge you, you must abide by these evacuation notices", Ventura County Sheriff Jeff Dean said at a press conference late Monday.

An unknown number of homes were destroyed by the blaze, according to LAFD.

He said his grandmother is devastated the house is gone.

More than 150-thousand people have been ordered to evacuate areas around Los Angeles.

Hawaiian Village was swallowed up by the blaze at around 4 am that morning.

One person was reported to have died in a road accident while trying to flee the fire.

The fires spewed so much smoke that they were captured in a NASA image from space. But people are lining up at the gas pumps, too, here so they can fill up and get out of town.

An image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra satellite shows large plumes of smoke streaming into the Pacific, illustrating the fires' scope and size.

"The flames kicked up 50 feet in the air", he writes. The area has had nearly no measurable rainfall over the past six months.

The rains of late 2016 and early 2017 did little to quench the parched California landscape, Patzert and others said. Two people were critically injured in a small San Bernardino County fire, but no other serious injuries were reported.

"[Conditions are] not going to get any better anytime soon, and the fire is out of control", Buschow said.

The difference between then and now is population, dense housing and location, Patzert and Spelman noted.

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