Fire Forces 27,000 to Evacuate in Ventura as Dry Winter Looms

A masive wildfire that erupted overnight and burned over 30,000 acres has forced 27,000 people in Ventura County to evacuate their homes as 150 structures were destroyed, according to reports from local news and wire services.

The fire is being called the Thomas fire. Photographs on social media show a dramatic, destructive blaze:

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday: “Hundreds of firefighters working through the night tried to prevent the blaze from spreading, block by block, as they were confronted by wind gusts of up to 50 mph. One firefighter was injured, though it’s unclear how.”

The Associated Press noted:

The blaze broke out Monday and grew wildly to more than 48 square miles (124 sq. kilometers) in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said.

“The fire growth is just absolutely exponential,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. “All that firefighters can do when we have winds like this is get out ahead, evacuate people, and protect structures.”

Firefighters from neighboring Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties were pouring in to help.

Many local communities suffered from blackouts as the fire disrupted electricity transmission services.

The scent of the fire carried many miles away into Los Angeles as the region hunkered down amidst cool temperatures, low humidity, and high coastal winds — perfect conditions for the outbreak and spread of wildfires.

A “red flag” warning had been issued earlier in the week and area residents had been warned to take precautions. The National Weather Service also warned of high Santa Ana winds, with gusts of up to 50 to 70 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, Californians are worried about the prospect of another dry winter, after last year’s record-breaking rainfall snapped a five-year drought. Though the winter season began with rainstorms across the state, a wall of high pressure has settled across the West Coast, the San Francisco Chronicle notes, and it is keeping out moisture from the Pacific that California depends on to drop snow on the Sierra Nevada range and replenish reservoirs.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Photo: file


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