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California Fires live updates: more areas under siege as the wind gains strength

• Fire and smoke forced the closure of Highway 101, the main coastal route north of Los Angeles, between Ventura and Santa Barbara. Here is our list of road closures in the Los Angeles area.

• Hundreds of schools were ordered closed for the remainder of the week due to the thick layer of smoke filling the skies. The Los Angeles Unified School District said at least 322 schools, including charter schools, would not take classes on Thursday.

• The National Meteorological Service, which warned of the risk of "very rapid growth of the fire," said winds could decrease on Friday through Saturday.

In Ventura, "the whole city slept with one eye open."

Forty miles northwest of Los Angeles, the largest of several fires had consumed 96,000 acres on Thursday morning and at least 150 structures – probably hundreds more, firefighters said and threatened another 15,000 in the city of Ventura and the neighboring communities, and contained 5 percent.

Emergency officials said early Thursday that the fire, known as the Thomas fire, "continues to burn actively with extreme rates of spread and long-range detection when pushed by the wind." Part of the 101 highway in the region is It closed when the fire hit the road and veered to the northwest of Ventura.

ntire town slept with one eye open, "said Tracie Fickenscher, Ventura resident." Every time you hear the wind breaking into your house, you wonder if that's the streak. Is that the one that awoke a sufficient spark? "

Other large fires were burning in the northern San Fernando Valley and the rugged region north of Los Angeles, Malibu officials said the fire that erupted in their city on Thursday morning was" currently contained " , but that the emergency teams remained on the scene.

Forest fires surrounded the Los Angeles area and threatened Bel-Air.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the thick smoke that had covered western Los Angeles had almost completely dissipated. Instead of the gray-brown haze that residents woke up until Wednesday, they were greeted by the cloudless blue sky for which Los Angeles is famous. Along Highway 405, which had been closed during part of Wednesday's morning trip, cars moved even faster than usual tracking.

Los Angeles firefighters continued navigating the steep terrain and the canyons near Bel-Air on Thursday morning. where a fire had burned 475 acres. The wind speed during the night had not been as bad as some feared. Even so, the fire, which erupted on Wednesday near landmarks such as U.C.L.A. and the Getty Museum, only contained 5 percent.

"Nothing jumped the highway, which is one of our biggest concerns," said Paul Koretz, a member of the Los Angeles City Council. "Everything went as well as he could."

More firefighters and equipment were summoned to help quell the fire, and none of the residents of the approximately 700 homes that were ordered to evacuate returned. Officials said he had no estimate of when residents could return.

Classes at UCLA were canceled on Thursday, although there was no indication that the campus was in danger.

The lack of rain in recent months has increased the danger.


4 Reasons California fires are so bad this year [19659019] California has suffered unusually destructive fires this year. Here is why.

By BEN LAFFIN on Publication date December 6, 2017.

Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images.

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From the deck on the roof of his house in Ventura, Tom Sheaffer has spent most of the week watching the fire move from Santa Paula all the way west to the ocean. Mr. Sheaffer, who was born and raised in Ventura, said he had never seen a fire as bad as this one.

"This is a totally different level," he said on Wednesday. "The fuel around here is mainly grass, but it's dry grass and it has not really burned for many years, the confluence of the hot, dry winds and the fuel that has been building for so many years has just created this terrible situation."

The strong winds that are driving fires are a normal feature of late fall and winter in Southern California. What is different this year and what makes fires particularly large and destructive is the amount of dry vegetation that is ready to burn.

"What is unusual is the fact that the fuels are so dry," said Thomas Rolinski, a senior meteorologist with the US Forest Service. "Normally at this time of year we would have had enough rain so this was not a problem."

The situation in Southern California is similar to the one that occurred in northern California in October, when strong and high winds fueled fires that killed 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes. But while northern California has had a large amount of rain that has essentially eliminated the threat of fire, the south has remained dry.

"We have not had any significant rainfall since March," Rolinski said.

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