Thursday, 02 December 2021 05:46 GMT

Firefighters battle huge California wildfires


(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Firefighters were yesterday battling a wind-whipped brush fire in southern California that has left at least one person dead and destroyed more than 150 homes and businesses.
The Ventura County Fire Department said over 27,000 people had been told to evacuate their homes and the fast-moving fire in the coastal county north of Los Angeles had grown to 31,000 acres.
'The prospects for containment are not good, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen told a late night news conference.
'Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to put it out.
The National Weather Service said easterly Santa Ana winds fuelling the fire had registered gusts of up to 80kph.
'The fire is pushing quickly towards the city of Ventura, Lorenzen said, and has reached the eastern city limits.
The Pacific Ocean beachfront city has a population of around 100,000.
The fire chief said one death had been reported.
'As the individual was evacuating from the fire the car overturned, he said.
The Southern California Edison utility company said 180,000 customers in Ventura County and 83,000 in Santa Barbara County were without power.
Ventura County officials said about 500 firefighters were currently battling the blaze, known as the Thomas Fire, and more were being deployed.
'Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are expected to attack the fire at daybreak, the Ventura County website said.
Lorenzen said the fire was consuming dry brush.
'It's heavy brush, brush that hasn't burned in 15 to 20 years, he said.
'And it's been a five-, six-year drought so the fuel is just tinder dry and just as ripe as can be for fire spread.
This has been California's deadliest year ever for wildfires.
More than 40 people died in the state's wine-producing country in fires in October.
'We got my kids out first, Melissa Grisales told ABC 7 in Los Angeles.
'Pretty scary, really. I didn't think it was going to come to that, but I am starting to get pretty concerned.
About 390 students at Thomas Aquinas College were evacuated as a precaution, the school said on Twitter.
Evacuation centres were opened at a high school and the county fairgrounds, media reported.


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