Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as a series of two fast-moving fires have burned down dozens of structures in Los Angeles and Ventura County, just a few miles from where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, another fire in Nothern California has claimed five lives.
High winds, low humidity and dry vegetation have stoked the fires, which have quickly spread throughout the state over Thursday evening into Friday.
The Hill Fire
The Hill Fire, located near the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, the site of Wednesday’s tragedy, has burned through thousands of acres.
“I’ve lived here since 1998,” Arita Kronska, 68, who lives in the area, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is the first time I’ve seen a fire like this.”
Judy Goodman, a 70-year-old Thousand Oaks resident who spoke with the Ventura County Star, said powerful winds sent a branch through the roof of her home as the flames approached.
“I just wonder what’s next,” she told the paper, alluding to the shooting that took place this week. “There’s so much chaos in the world.”
Former U.S. soccer star Eric Wynalda was evacuated from his home in Westlake Village early Friday morning.
“Gone,” Wynalda told the San Diego Tribune. “Brutal… Watched it burn on live TV.”
The Woolsey Fire
More than 75,000 homes in Ventura and Los Angeles were recently given evacuation orders as the other blaze, known as the Woolsey Fire, approached the California coastline, CNN reported.
According to the Times, residents in Malibu received a warning just after 12 p.m. on Friday to evacuate as the flames closed in on the city.
“I could tell that this is getting serious. You could just see the plumes of smoke,” resident Olivia Damavandi told the newspaper. “I’m just in acceptance — glad my family is safe and everything is replaceable.”
By Friday afternoon, the Woolsey Fire had swelled from 10,000 acres to 14,000 and remains at zero percent containment.
“We have hundreds of firefighters here on the fire lines right now, many more on order,” Ventura County Fire Department Chief Mark Lorenzen told ABC 7.
The Camp Fire
Firefighters in the northern part of the state are also battling a fire — known as the Camp Fire — which has led to the evacuation of nearly 40,000 people. Five people were killed when in the town of Paradise, home to 27,000 residents, when the fire overcame the vehicle they were in, the Times reported.
“There were people who weren’t able to get out,” Butte County Sheriff Kory L. Honea told the Times. “This is such a chaotic and difficult situation… We had people who have been displaced and scattered all over.”
The Weather Channel reports several other people have been injured and a number of businesses and homes have gone up in flames.
During a press conference on Friday night, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Chief John Benedict said hundreds of personnel have been deployed to help with the fires.
“As of right now we have over 600 law enforcement personnel out here working the fire scene. Out of that, there are 200 county sheriffs to secure the evacs taking place and securing areas of fire damage.”
Ventura County Fire Dept Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen added that officers acted courageously to save trapped residents.
“What I witnessed last night in the area above Oak Park was a truly heroic action especially from law enforcement officers who were literally pulling people out of burning homes,” he said.
Fortunately, the weather conditions may give emergency personnel a break over the weekend, at least for a moment.
“There were times throughout the day when we had to round our rotary aircraft because of fire conditions. Currently estimating that we’re at 35,000 acres and growing,” LA County FD Fire Chief Darrell Osby explained. “As you can see the winds have died down. Our plans are for tomorrow to expect a lull in the weather. After tomorrow, we’re expecting another wind event Sunday.”