VENTURA, Calif. — Ferocious fires forced tens of thousands of people to flee from their homes in Southern California on Tuesday. The massive flames stretched across massive spaces of land in a matter of hours.
Firefighters in multiple locations in the region battled fires that were spurred by dry and windy conditions, officials said. In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire burned more than 50,000 acres, and on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire enveloped more than 11,000 acres north of the city’s downtown. Another fire in the county, dubbed the Rye Fire, had cut through 5,000 acres near the city of Santa Clarita by Tuesday evening.
Authorities have already issued ominous warnings of upcoming dangers to come during a “multi-day event” across the area, as weather forecasters said the region faces “extreme fire danger”. This is because of intense Santa Ana winds and low humidity that could cause the fires to grow rapidly.
The Ventura County fire began when a small flame which quickly went out of control. The fire has already burned an area nearly as large as Seattle and caused further damaged into the city of Ventura, home to more than 100,000 people. Its course sped by high winds that ranged from 35 to 55 miles per hour.
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a news briefing. “Really, Mother Nature’s going to decide when we have the ability to put it out.”
The flames continued to spread and have caused severe damage. Homes were destroyed and the charred remains of cars sat among heaps of ash. Huge clouds of thick smoke can be seen through Aerial images around the Los Angeles region.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a state of emergency in the city and said that more than 30 buildings had burned in the blaze. He said that some 150,000 people lived in evacuation areas.
“We want to be really clear, folks,” he said. “We have lost structures, we have not lost lives. Do not wait. Leave your homes.”