MALIBU, CA – A thick, dark blanket of smoke hovered over Ventura County, raining ash and embers against residents and firefighters as the Thomas Fire continued to wreak havoc in the county. On Thursday night, the fire had consumed 115,000 acres, destroyed 427 Ventura structures and damaged at least 85 more, authorities said. Twelve additional structures were destroyed in unincorporated areas of Ventura County, according to the Los Angeles Times. The fire only contains five percent.
The Ventura County Fire Department ordered a new round of mandatory evacuations Thursday night: Highway 192 in the south, Highway 150 in the east (county line), Santa Monica Road to the west and extending north east to Camino Cielo, highway 1
The smoke continued to pollute the area creating an apocalyptic scene worthy of a horror movie: the sky was soaked in a gray mist so dense it was hard to see down the street. Roads and highways closed intermittently throughout the day depending on the current fire conditions, which were unpredictable due to unstable winds.
"We're trying to get the word out to everyone who lives on the coast that they really need to start thinking about [evacuating] right now," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. "Make sure your car is gassed, make sure your irreplaceable documents, pictures, all that, keep it in boxes, even if you do not get on your car, just have it ready to go"
The Santa Ana winds were in full validity, pushing the uncontrollable fire closer to new neighborhoods and causing new evacuations. The air quality in Ojai remained at dangerous levels, with winds of 40 miles per hour pushing the flames within a mile of the city, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A woman's body was found in a burned area near Ojai on Thursday, early in the morning sending a shock wave through the county, adding a new sense of urgency to bringing down the flames. A police officer drove through a megaphone through an area near Faria Beach.
"We're running with adrenaline," said a Ventura resident as he washed a dry tree outside his home.
"Everyone having friends whose houses have been on fire is a lot to handle," said another spectator.
The flames, which erupted on Monday with the help of strong winds, crossed Highway 33 (burning oil fields in the process) and jumped over the Highway 101 on the quest to reach the Pacific Ocean. Officials issued new evacuation orders in the Ojai Valley, sending an emergency cell phone alert to residents to notify them, according to the Los Angeles Times. Five assisted living centers received help from the authorities to evacuate, and those in the Ojai Hospital were recommended to take refuge in the place.
The state of the fire depends to a great extent on the Santa Ana winds, which the authorities anticipated would be extremely strong until Saturday; the winds have the potential to reach speeds of 80 miles per hour, according to Cal's fire chief, Ken Pimlott. In addition to that, the area is experiencing a dry climate and extremely low humidity. Authorities said the flames could last for several weeks.
"When we have opportunities, when the winds have diminished, we direct firefighting in the line of fire and try to contain ourselves a bit," said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. "Until the wind stops blowing, there really is not much we can do about the perimeter control."
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Ventura County Fire Department launched new targets on Wednesday to battle Thomas' fire, including keeping fire north of Highway 126, south of Highway 150 – Reeves Road to Hern Canyon Road to Nordhoff Ridge – and keeping the flames east of the highway 101.
A firefighter was injured in the fire as more More than 1,000 people work to gain ground in the fire fueled by erratic winds from Santa Ana, authorities said at a press conference on Tuesday. Rapidly moving fire forced Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.
"This fire is very dangerous and is spreading rapidly, but we will continue to attack it with everything we have," Brown said in a statement. declaration. "Critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if they are told to do so."
Teams from across the state were sent to the region to help fight the fire. From the Bay Area, 10 engines comprising 44 firefighters from Marin County Fire, San Rafael, Ross Valley and Tiburon departed Tuesday morning to help contain the wildfire, said the head of the Marin County Fire Battalion. , Bret McTigue.
Four Alameda County firefighters with 304 engine and four firefighters from the Mountain View Fire Department that are part of the San Mateo County strike team were also deployed on Tuesday morning.
This is a story in development; Update the page for updates.
Patch editors Ashley Ludwig and Hoa Quach, Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report; Photo: Firefighters oversee a section of the Thomas Fire along Highway 101 on December 7, 2017 north of Ventura, California. Firefighters from time to time used a flare device to burn the brush near the edge of the road. The strong Santa Ana winds are rapidly pushing multiple forest fires throughout the region, expanding across tens of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes and structures. (Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images / Getty Images North America)