Americas News

Wildfires force thousands from California homes

Satellite view of the #ThomasFire burning in California in Ventura County. Image: Twitter/NASA

Nearly 110,000 people in Southern California have fled their homes or are under mandatory evacuations as the wildfires that began earlier this week continue to burn mostly-uncontrolled in the area south of Santa Barbara.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center warned that wind gusts of 30-40 mph will spread across much of southern California, with gusts that could top out at 80 mph in higher terrains.

At last report, the Thomas Fire near Ventura has burned over 96,000 acres and is 5 percent contained. The California National guard activated two 747 SuperTankers along with several other firefighting aircraft to help drop fire retardant to reduce the spread of the fires.

The flames temporarily closed a section of the 101 Freeway along the coast from Ventura to near Santa Barbara.

The Creek Fire, which started Monday north of Burbank, has destroyed at least 30 homes and burned over 12,000 acres. As of Thursday morning, it is at 5 percent containment.

The Skirball Fire that broke out near Los Angeles on Wednesday temporarily closed portions of the 405 freeway, a major roadway for millions of people who live in the city.

The Rye Fire, which started Tuesday near Ventura and caused the 101 closure, is 15 percent contained and has burned 7,000 acres.

A string of wildfires in California earlier this summer killed at least 38 people and created over $9.4 billion in insurance claims, according to the California Department of Insurance. Insurers so far have paid out over $2.9 billion for residential property claims. Cal Fire ranks four of those wildfires – the Tubbs, Nuns, Atlas, and Redwood Valley fires – in the list of top 20 most destructive California wildfires in the state’s history.

A GIF from the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles published Wednesday afternoon shows even more dry air forming in Nevada will be pushed south towards Santa Ana and LA on Thursday, contributing to the fire-critical climate.

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