The massive Thomas Fire plaguing Southern California now covers at least 230,000 acres, making it the fifth largest blaze in the state’s modern history, reports say.
Firefighters continued battling at least six wildfires through the weekend. Collectively, the blazes are covering an area larger than New York City and Boston combined, CNN reports. Officials announced at a recent news conference that more than 790 structures have been destroyed.
“This is kind of the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a Saturday news conference, according to the Washington Post. “We’re facing a new reality in this state, where fires threaten people’s lives, their property, their neighborhoods and, of course, billions and billions of dollars.”
He said that, due to climate change, California residents could expect extreme fire activity in the coming decades.
“I know that’s maybe a little remote, but it’s real, and we’re experiencing what it’s going to look like on a very regular basis.”
Of the six blazes, Thomas Fire is the largest of the bunch and the Creek fire, which ignited on Tuesday, is the second biggest as it burns more than 15,000 acres, according to CNN. Officials are also fighting the Rye, Lilac, Skirball, and Liberty Fires. All but the Thomas Fire are at least 75 percent contained, according to the site.
Over Sunday night, Santa Ana winds fueled the fires, causing flames to spread in the Caripinteria area — the oceanside city is just east of Santa Barbara, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Although some mandatory evacuations had been lifted by early Monday morning, several others remained in place and at least eight schools were closed on Monday.
A 70-year-old woman, Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, died in a rollover crash while fleeing the fire, CNN reports. At least three firefighters were injured while fighting the blazes last week.
Hundreds have flocked to several evacuation shelters as the fires continued throughout the weekend. And face masks were in high demand throughout Ventura County over the weekend as residents worked to protect themselves from smoke inhalation, according to the Post.
Many celebrities announced on social media that they were evacuating their homes due to the fires. Stars like Chrissy Teigen, Chelsea Handler, Lea Michele, Jennifer Tilly and more gave updates on Twitter.
“I’m going to have a conversation with some people and we are going to get moving on a solution,” Bieber said in a heartfelt Instagram video. “Obviously, I’m not a fireman but I can use my resources to figure out ways to get some sort of restoration in certain communities.”