Fierce wildfires continued to rage in southern California on Wednesday, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee when meteorologists and officials warned that dangerous fires could endanger the region for days.
The wave of fires erupted Earlier this week it spread quickly and mercilessly, with the biggest fire expanding across a region almost as big as the city of Orlando. Emergency personnel rushed to evacuate residents, protect homes and close roads in the region, even when authorities warned that the biggest fire was "out of control" early Wednesday and prevented crews from entering.
as Thomas Fire, had exploded in Ventura County, northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The Thomas fire burned 65,000 acres on Wednesday morning and the fire destroyed hundreds of homes, threatened 12,000 structures and forced 27,000 people to evacuate, officials said. Most of those who fled were asked if their residences were among those destroyed.
More than 1,000 firefighters were on the scene, county officials said in a notice posted online, but were unable to enter the fire area "due to the intensity of the fire." The stretches of cities and communities were evacuated, while many schools in the area were closed.
In Los Angeles County, firefighters rushed to respond to a pair of fires that broke out on Tuesday. The Creek Fire north of downtown Los Angeles burned 11,000 acres on Tuesday night, while the smaller Rye Fire was shaken on 7,000 acres on Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday morning, the authorities ran to respond to another fire, this one in the city of Los Angeles. The growing brush fire, known as the Skirball fire, triggered a wave of evacuations in the Bel Air area and closed Interstate 405, the famous congested highway. With the fire that raged not far from the Getty Center, that facility kept its doors closed on Wednesday.
Fires in the southern part of the state cut through neighborhoods, burning cars and homes, sending thick waves of smoke into the air and leaving behind waves of ash and destruction. Thousands of people also lost power due to fires.
Gob. Jerry Brown (D) declared the states of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to the fires and his office said that the flames were threatening thousands of homes.
"Critical residents remain ready and evacuate immediately if ordered to do so." Brown said in a statement.
A firefighter tries to prevent the flames from spreading while fighting a forest fire in Ventura, California. (Noah Berger / AP)
So far, officials have not announced any deaths due to the fires, but stressed that people faced mortal danger if they did not obey evacuation orders. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) declared a state of emergency and said more than 30 buildings had been burned in the fire. He also said that some 150,000 people lived in evacuation areas.
"We want to be very clear, friends," he said. "We have lost structures, we have not lost lives Do not wait Leave your homes."
Three firefighters in Los Angeles were injured and taken to a hospital, all in stable condition, according to local officials who did not give details about their injuries. A battalion chief in Ventura was injured in a traffic accident and was expected to recover.
The next few days could continue to present new risks of additional forest fires, warned the authorities. Charlie Beck, Los Angeles police chief, said the region faced "a multi-day event" and added: "This will not be the only fire."
On Wednesday morning, President Trump's Twitter account published ] a statement of support for people on the path of wildfires and urged them to listen to local and state officials. He also referred to the announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that he had approved assistance grants to help pay for emergency work in response to the California fires.
These last wildfires occur during a brutal year for California, burning only months after fires. The state's wine region killed dozens of people and razed thousands of buildings. Uncontrolled fires need three things to start and spread: fuel, dry weather and a source of ignition, and this week's fires had immediate access to all three.
The fuel for the fire was ready for one year. After an epic, multi-year drought, California finally got the rain and snow it needed last winter, and that allowed the vegetation to bounce back. The hills turned green and the brush thickened. But as the weather dried up, it created plentiful amounts of fuel, which are now fueling forest fires.
Cal Fire said it moved resources from the northern part of the state to the south and prepared firefighting aircraft and equipment to respond. Tim Chavez with Cal Fire said the lack of rain in the region in recent months has made the conditions particularly susceptible to a forest fire.
"This year … it did not rain in September, October and November in Southern California, so we have incredibly desiccated dry fuels," he said.
The National Weather Service said the risks could last until Friday, issuing "red alert" warnings of increased fire risk for Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Friday. A combination of low humidity and high winds could lead to "very rapid fire growth" and "extreme fire behavior," the service warned.
Aerial images showed huge clouds of dense smoke billowing around the Los Angeles region.
Some people expelled from their homes by the fires said they saw the danger that threatened.
"This is life in Southern California, this is where we live," said Mark Gennaro, who was told his 12-year-old house was destroyed. "I stand on that hill and see all that brush and think: & # 39; Something is going to happen sometime & # 39;".
Those who escaped the fires reported apocalyptic scenes in their homes and when they tried to leave.
"The trees within the complex were already on fire", Lance Korthals, 66, who fled his apartment complex in Ventura. "I had to drive around the flames that were already flowing on the road"
Gena Aguayo, 53, of Ventura, said he saw fire "going down the mountain". When Lorena evacuated with her children on Tuesday morning afterward Initially, she said that the wind was so strong that it blew ash into her house.
"I have never experienced anything like this," said Lara, 42. "Maybe in Santa Barbara, but we did not wait." here [.]
Max Ufberg and Noah Smith in Ventura and Angela Fritz in Washington contributed to this report, which has been updated and updated throughout the day.