California fire losses push total to 479 structures

Friday, 08 Dec, 2017

M - With tired firefighters continuing their assault on several major wildfires wreaking devastation across Southern California, two new blazes fired up Thursday, adding to the region's smoke-filled misery.

Where there was no fire, there was fear.

The fire was burning in the same general area as the devastating Bel-Air Fire of 1961.

Officials were concerned about part of the Thomas fire heading northeast and threatening a nursing home in Ojai.

"We stand a good chance of a challenging night and day tomorrow", Cal Fire spokesman Tim Chavez said, adding that there's potential for fire growth on the northwest side and a high probability of spot fires. "In some cases, the worst could be yet to come in terms of the wind". Some 50 acres had burned within a matter of just two hours as Los Angeles firefighters contend with wind gusts of up to 30 mph. That rate would burn through Manhattan's Central Park in about 14 minutes. Officials were focused on keeping the fire from jumping the freeway and heading east.

Mr Murdoch said in a statement: "The property was evacuated but based on what we are seeing on TV there may be damage to some buildings in the upper vineyard area".

More than 1,770 firefighters and police officers were waging war with the fire in Ventura County, according to the latest incident report.

"This breeze is nothing", said Shane Nollsch, who had traveled from Lyon County, Nevada, arriving at 3 a.m. Wednesday to help fight the blaze.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

La Conchita, a tiny town hard against Highway 101, was threatened by flames early Thursday. These fires are fueled by some of the strongest Santa Ana winds in recent memory.

Veteran firefighters said they had not seen wildfires here with the scope of this one, now extending dozens of miles from near Santa Paula in Ventura County to the edge of Carpinteria, a city of 13,000 people.

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the San Fernando Valley and some on the Westside of Los Angeles - a total of 265 district schools and charter schools - were closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday due to the danger from the Skirball Fire and other fires burning in Los Angeles County, district officials said. That move for a time shut down all access to Santa Barbara from the city of Ventura; the freeway has just been reopened, according to the CHP.

The fire began as crews are spread across Southern California fighting several brush fires, including the Thomas Fire, the Creek Fire, and the Rye Fire.