At least four devastating wildfires continued to ravage Southern California from Ventura County south to Los Angeles, as the stifling smoke and flames drove tens of thousands of people living in the Los Angeles area from their homes in an eerie replay of the fires that decimated Northern California’s wine country two months ago.
Officials in Southern California have warned that powerful winds (as high as 80 mph in some spots, the same speed as a low-level hurricane) would continue to fan the flames after returning overnight. So far, more than 200,000 people have evacuated their homes and many more are expected to flee. The Los Angeles Fire Department has ordered the evacuation of the 20.5 square miles including and surrounding the Creek Fire, which jumped the 210 Freeway and is threatening Santa Ana’s Sylmar and Lake View Terrace neighborhoods. The Rye Fire in Santa Clarita prompted the shutdown of Highway 5, according to Mashable.
“We are in the beginning of a protracted wind event,” said state fire chief Ken Pimlott.
“There will be no ability to fight fire in these kinds of winds,” Pimlott said. “At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is not ‘watch the news and go about your day.’ This is pay attention minute-by-minute … keep your head on a swivel.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, communities both on the coast and inland were under threat. At 4 a.m., officials closed the 101 Freeway between Routes 126 and 150. According to the California Highway Patrol, that left no open routes between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Fires were also burning on the north and east side of Highway 150 and on the west side of Highway 33.
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