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Ventura Fire: Southern California wrestles with several infernos

The powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions fueled at least five fires on Tuesday, marking what has been a devastating year for fires in California.

The latest fires forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, set fire to more than a hundred buildings and caused power cuts in the region.

After a slowdown in the Santa Ana fire on Tuesday night, winds are expected to recede from Wednesday to Thursday, which could complicate firefighting efforts.

The largest of the flames, called Thomas Fire, encompassed 50,500 acres (approximately 78 square miles) in Ventura County, located just north of Los Angeles. The fire was at 0% containment as of Tuesday night.

In Ventura, a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants on the Pacific coast, more than a quarter of its residents (38,000 people) had been told to evacuate. Nearly 150 buildings, including homes and an evacuated Ventura hospital, have been destroyed.

In Los Angeles, another fire called Creek Fire went from 4,000 acres to 11,000 in a matter of hours on Tuesday.

"We hope to be out here all week fighting and containing this fire," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Fires blew so much smoke that they were captured in a NASA image from space.

  A NASA image from space shows the wildfires of southern California.

Latest developments

• Prompted curfew: On Tuesday, the city of Ventura declared a daily curfew, starting at 10 p.m. M. at 5 a.m. The curfew is to protect residents and prevent crimes such as looting in evacuation areas, the city said.

  Forest fires in California: even 2 years later, the loss of housing is difficult to shake

• Fire jump highway: The Thomas Fire was captured arriving at Highway 101, north of Ventura, and even jumping across the highway.

• Fiery: Thomas's fire burned at almost an acre per second on Tuesday. At that speed, I would have covered Manhattan's Central Park in about 14 minutes.

• Massive Exodus: Mayor Garcetti said that some 150,000 people in Los Angeles were affected by evacuation orders from the Creek Fire near Sylmar and Lake View Terrace.

• Blackout: About 43,000 homes are without power, according to Southern California Edison on Tuesday night. More disruptions are possible because flames were burning along power transmission routes, a spokeswoman said.

• Statement of Status: Govt. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for Ventura County, freeing state resources such as the National Guard to support the response efforts.

Other fires: The rye fire near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County grew to around 5,000 acres and contained 5%. That fire was detected near the Magic Mountain of Six Flags in Valencia.

In San Bernardino County, two smaller fires arose. One is completely contained while the Little Mountain fire, on 100 acres, contains 0%.

& # 39; Everything I have … is gone & # 39;

The fire had devastated neighborhoods, destroying houses to the ground, reducing them to gray burning ashes. It also burned Vista del Mar Hospital, an 82-bed mental health center in northwest Ventura, which was completely evacuated two hours earlier, county fire engineer Richard Macklin said.

Residents who had to evacuate from their homes described tense moments as fires rapidly approached.

"The embers of the trees fell on our cars," said Mary Robinson, a resident of Ventura, who fled Monday night. "We are so blessed that we still have a house, I can not believe it, because the fire was so close."

Another Ventura resident, Samantha Wells-Zuniga, escaped with her family and saw the whole apartment complex call. Hawaiia Village, it burns.

Speaking in tears, he told CNN affiliate KABC: "We've been watching all these disasters on TV, do not you really think when it happens to you, and what do you pack at that moment?"

They escaped with some Christmas presents.

"Now, everything I have, except for my lovely family, is gone," she said through tears.

Thomas's fire jumped thousands of acres with surprising speed while the Santa Ana winds, which were blowing at a speed of 35 to 50 mph, carried their embers. The fire quickly devoured the dry chaparral, as the county has been in a period of moderate drought.

Satellite images show how quickly the neighborhoods lit up at night.

The winds were part of the "strongest and longest" event in Santa Ana of the season. Santa Anas are strong, dry winds that high pressure systems push from east to west, from the mountains and desert areas to the Los Angeles area.

A red flag warning, which is due to extreme weather conditions that could cause forest fires, is valid until 8 p. m. PT Friday.

Paul Vercammen and Sara Sidner of CNN reported from Ventura. Jennifer Selva of CNN, Stella Chan, Braden Walker, Judson Jones, Brandon Miller, Amanda Jackson, Intisar Seraaj, Sonya Hamasaki, Carma Hassan and Keith Allen contributed to this report.

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