Southern California Fires Rage On, Winds Expected to Reach 80 Miles per Hour


With winds expected to reach 80 miles per hour today, the Southern California fires threaten to continue growing and scorching through land, homes and businesses. The four fires—Thomas, Rye, Creek and Skirball—have already burned through 116,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, decimated more than 300 structures, and none are currently over 15 percent contained.

On Wednesday night, officials released an emergency alert to all of Los Angeles County citing “extreme fire danger.” Forecasters utilized the color purple on maps, an exceptionally rare occurrence, indicating the severity of the situation. Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said Wednesday that his agency had never had to use the color purple before.

“These will be winds where there will be no ability to fight fires,” stated Pimlott. “This will be about evacuations and getting people out from in front of any fires that start.” Thursday has seen new fires break out, with one already burning 96,000 acres in Ventura.

At the Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar, the Creek Fire threatened the safety of the animals as Founder Martine Colette and her staff hurried Tuesday morning to evacuate bison, chimpanzees, lions and more. The crew evacuated about 400 animals to zoos and motion picture compounds; 100 animals were not evacuated, but there hasn’t been a loss of animal life, as far as the facility knows.

As the Los Angeles Fire Department explains, fire danger is calculated by measuring moisture in dead vegetation, winds and temperatures, taking into account historical weather information. A measurement of 48 is “high danger” and 162 is “extreme.” Thursday’s score of 296 is a record.

The fires have beckoned evacuation orders affecting 200,000 residents in Los Angeles and Ventura, and several cities in the Ojai Valley have recently been issued mandatory evacuation notices. Thousands of firefighters are working to try to contain the flames, over 320 Los Angeles schools will be closed Thursday and Friday, and the Skirball Fire is threatening to spread west of the 405. The National Weather Service has stated that Santa Ana winds could lessen by Friday and Saturday.

To residents in affected counties and those working to contain the fires, please be safe and stay up to date with the authorities to know the latest developments and evacuation orders.

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