Noah Berger / AP
The fierce Santa Ana winds that have sparked massive fires in southern California could become even stronger on Thursday, authorities warned, as four fires near Los Angeles had invaded more than 100,000 acres.
Meteorologists predicted gusts of up to 80 mph, probably land helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft used to throw water over the flames.
"The forecast for tomorrow is purple," said Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. the only color above red on the wind scale. "We have never used purple before."
As The Associated Press points out, "the wildest winds could easily explode as well, as happened on Wednesday in the exclusive Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, where a fire consumed millions of doldrums that offer the rich and famous spots Scenics of Los Angeles "
Mary Plummer, reporter for the KPCC member station in Pasadena, tells Morning Edition that" these fires are affecting a real range of geographical areas, some very urban, others very rural It is a real logistical problem. "
Cal Fire estimates that hundreds of structures, including 200 houses, have been destroyed, and that up to 200,000 people are under evacuation orders. Some 12,000 structures are considered in danger.
Gob. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles and Ventura counties that will free up resources from the state.
Surprisingly, no deaths have been reported so far.
But many people have been evacuated and many have already lost their homes.
Patricia Hampton, a homeless woman who lost her tent, took refuge in the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which serves as an evacuation center.
"It was surreal," he tells KPCC. "The whole city was completely black, I looked to the left and the hillside was on fire, I looked to the right and was reaching the ridge, huge flames"
The KCLU member station says that the firefighters have progressed, raising the containment of the Thomas Fire, the largest of several, from zero to 5 percent.
However, Ventura County fire captain Tony McHale said he was still far from being controlled.
"There's enough fire around, there's dry fuel, the humidity is still low, we're still in great danger, so we can not let our guard down at all," McHale said.
The Thomas Fire has burned a 10-mile road from Santa Paula to the Pacific Ocean, bypassing US Highway 101 on the way.
The Los Angeles Times reports that "as flames burned in the neighborhoods of Ojai, Carpenteria and Fillmore on Wednesday night, officials issued new evacuation orders in Ojai Valley, notifying residents with a cell emergency alert. They were helping the residents of five assisted living facilities to evacuate, while the people at the Ojai Hospital were advised to take refuge in their place. "
Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) adds:" The areas northeast of Ojai They have experienced the biggest fire growth since Wednesday morning, officials told reporters, and authorities say they are conducting damage assessments in the area to determine how many houses have been damaged.
In Los Angeles County, the Creek fire, affecting 12,605 acres, contains only 5 percent and the 7,000-acre Rye fire is contained in 10 percent and the much smaller Skirball Fire is considered by 5 percent and has led to the evacuation of some 700 homes, an apartment building and a primary school, according to SCPR.