In what sounds like a replay of the devastating fires that killed dozens of people and torched a broad swath of California wine country this past summer, at least five discrete fires barreled across Southern California with extreme speed, torching more than 65,000 acres as firefighters struggled to contain the simultaneous infernos.
The first blaze started at about 6:25 p.m. Monday in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, a popular hiking destination. It grew quickly to more than 15 square miles in the hours that followed, consuming vegetation that hasn’t burned in decades, Ventura County Fire Sgt. Eric Buschow said, according to CNN.
Powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions have fueled the wildfires, according to the Washington Post, adding hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars in damage to what has already been a devastating year for fires. The winds that caused the fires were part of the season’s longest and strongest wind event – driving down from the desert and mountains into the city of Los Angeles.
So far, the latest fires have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, burned down more than a hundred buildings and triggered power outages in the region.
According to CNN, on Tuesday, the city of Ventura declared a daily curfew, beginning 10 pm to 5 am. The curfew is to protect residents and prevent crime such as looting in the evacuation areas, the city said. The largest fire, called the Thomas Fire, was seen crossing the 101 Freeway north of the city of Ventura. That fire had been burning at nearly an acre per second Tuesday. At that speed, it would have covered Manhattan’s Central Park in about 14 minutes.
The Thomas Fire spanned 50,000 acres (about 78 square miles) in Ventura County alone, which sits just north of Los Angeles. The fire was 0% contained as of Tuesday night.
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