Multiple fires have been burning across large areas in Southern California this week, and ferocious winds on Thursday are threatening to fuel the devastation.
Firefighters have been battling a series of wildfires throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties, which have burned some 116,000 acres so far. None of the fires are more than 15-percent contained, and according to the New York Times, the blazes have ravaged more than 300 structures, including homes and businesses, and city officials have closed many routes along the 101 and 405 freeways that have led to massive gridlock as families flee the danger. The Los Angeles Unified School District announced they have closed 322 schools for the rest of the week due to a thick blanket of smoke engulfing the city. The fires which have led to the evacuations of thousands.
With the combination of strong winds and dry weather, firefighters faced at least one new fire Thursday morning in Malibu, and in San Diego, a brush fire led firefighters to call in aircraft to help fight the flames. San Diego remains on high-alert as it braces for strong winds.
A US Wildfire Activity Public Information map shows the areas marking the four major blazes: the Skirball Fire, Creek Fire, Rye Fire, the expanding Thomas Fire and the new Lilac Fire in San Diego.
The Skirball Fire located near the upscale Bel Air area of Los Angeles burned for a second day on Thursday, just a day after the Getty Center—which contains thousands of priceless pieces of art—was thought to be in danger from the hellacious 475-acre blaze that prompted evacuations and a closure of the 405 Freeway. At least four homes were destroyed near the area, and another 12 were damaged, according to ABC 7. Firefighters now have the fire 20 percent contained. Today, the Getty Center is now housing firefighters who are working to contain the fire.
The Creek Fire in San Fernando Valley continues to spread east of Sylmar, but is now 10 percent contained, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Two fighters have been hospitalized fighting the blaze—one was hurt while using a dozer and second was hurt when a nearby propane tank exploded—but both are expected to be okay, according to the LA Times. Every school in the San Fernando Valley is closed. Approximately 99,000 residents have been evacuated since Tuesday, and about 15 structures were destroyed and 15 others were damaged.
The Thomas Fire is the most massive of the four fires, and has consumed some 96,000 acres—an area roughly the size of Denver. According to CNN, the fire could go down as one of the most destructive in California history, having spread over 31,000 acres in just nine hours—a speed that would have engulfed New York City’s Central Park in just 15 minutes, they say. The Thomas Fire threatened nearby Ojai, located in Ventura County, but firefighters were able to fight back late last night and keep it …read more