Shocking Images of Southern California Wildfires as Officials Order More Evacuations
On Thursday, a total of four fires were wreaking havoc on parts of the state. And officials lamented the toll that fighting the fires has taken on crews and military personnel.
“Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they're taking a beating too. But they're cooperating with our orders, Ventura County Fire Department spokesperson Thomas Kruschke told CNN.
California National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, from Oxnard, have joined in the fire-fighting efforts, but about 50 of the Guardsmen had to be evacuated — three lost their homes to the fire, an official told CNN.
"We have folks who lost their homes and many who were evacuated and still they did their duty and worked to help their community," the official said.
Early on Thursday, flames were inching closer to Los Angeles and a 450-acre blaze burned several mansions in the tony Bel-Air area, NBC News reports.
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars are among the thousands who have evacuated their homes due to the wildfires.
"Never thought I’d get to actually play what I thought was a hypothetical game of what would you grab if there were a fire," Chrissy Teigen tweeted on Wednesday. "So far all I have is Luna, some limited edition Oreos and my spike tv award."
The fires are the latest blazes to wreak havoc on the state. At least 10 people died and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed in October after several wildfires ravaged California’s wine country.
In a span of 24 hours, more than 18 fires began burning in at least seven counties and collectively burned more than 80,000 acres, Gov. Jerry Brown said at the time.
Along with Teigen, Jennifer Tilly and Chelsea Handler, Lea Michele and more have revealed that they fled their California homes.
"Praying for everyone in LA," Michele began. "Grabbed what I loved most this morning and so grateful to my friends for taking us in."
At least one person has died as a result of the fast-spreading wildfire plaguing more than 60,000 acres in southern California. The largest blaze, named "Thomas Fire" has prompted evacuation notices for more than 25,000 residents.
Although Thomas Fire is the largest of the blazes, small fires have engulfed homes near Los Angeles and, on Wednesday, ash rained down on one of the city's biggest freeways, the New York Times reports.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County. And in Ventura County, more than 1,700 worked to contain the large fire as it threatened 12,000 structures, the Times reports.
“These are days that break your heart,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. “These are also days that show the resilience of our city.”
Thomas Fire started near Santa Paula earlier this week and, in the span of just a few hours, spread across more than 30,000 acres.
“The fire is still out of control and structures continue to be threatened throughout the fire area,” officials said in a statement earlier this week, describing the blaze as a “fast moving, active brush fire.” “Due to the intensity of the fire, crews are having trouble making access and there are multiple reports of structures on fire.”
The fires have been fueled by strong Santa Ana winds. And, confirming their suspicions, officials declared on Wednesday that the largest blaze is burning with "0[percent] containment."
“The prospects for containment are not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a news conference earlier this week. “Mother nature’s gonna decide if we’re gonna have the ability to put it out.”
One person died in a rollover crash while trying to evacuate the area as thousands attempted to escape in the dark, CNNreports. Officials have not announced any other deaths, but Garcetti urged residents in the path of the fire to heed evacuation orders.
“We want to be really clear, folks,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “We have lost structures; we have not lost lives. Do not wait. Leave your homes.”
Three fire firghters were injured in Los Angeles and were taken to a hospital where they were listed in stable condition, the Post reports. On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted out a message of support for those in the path of the fires.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of California’s wildfires," he wrote. "I encourage everyone to heed the advice and orders of local and state officials. THANK YOU to all First Responders for your incredible work!"
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Wednesday that it would provide aid to the state to battle the fires.
Several schools have been closed due to the blazes. California Highway Patrol shut down the heavily-traveled Interstate 405 on Wednesday after a brushfire erupted overnight on the hillside east of the freeway, Reuters reports.
The fires have destroyed at least 150 homes, and resulted in the loss of power at more than 250, 000 Ventura County homes, Reuters reports. The Creek Fire destroyed at least 30 homes and led to evacuation notices for 2,500 more.