Southern California wildfire threatens thousands of homes

The fast-moving blazes, centered in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, have been fueled by dry, gusty Santa Ana winds.

The image below is a National Weather Service image from Tuesday afternoon showing high pressure systems that are expected to continue through the week.

The second major fire began Tuesday morning in Los Angeles County and quickly enveloped more than 4,000 acres. The winds push against the air coming from the LA basin's eastern mountains, which compresses the wind and heat between the ocean and the mountains, further drying out vegetation that has dried out over the summer.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency in Ventura County.

Some 3,000 homes remained under threat in Ventura County, said Todd Derum of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Firefighters were battling on the scene, being supported by water-dropping helicopters.

Mansions and modest homes alike were in flames in Ventura.

More than 27,000 people were evacuated, and one firefighter suffered bumps and bruises in a vehicle accident in Ventura County. At least four evacuation centers opened.

O'NEILL: Well, I got to check on my dog and my cat.

Fierce Santa Ana winds are whipping up the inferno, pushing it towards Santa Paula, a city of some 30,000 people, prompting evacuation orders that were later expanded to houses in Ventura, which has 106,000 residents. All the animals were out.

Roger Case, 76, drank a green tea in front of his 100-year-old Colonial-style home. "This is not flat land, and some areas are inaccessible to get equipment to". And right now the wind is really, really strong.

Fires tore through neighborhoods, razing homes to the ground, reducing them to gray smoldering ashes.

"It was just ember control", he said.

MCEVERS: What are people telling you?

Case wasn't quite ready to move back in yet Tuesday.

But they're going to be OK. However, areas all around the cross burned, including the botanical gardens. As the charity's other chapters assist in various evacuation centers, Salvation Army is asking for monetary donations to support its work.

The blaze has grown with astonishing speed. "The truth is it's just things, it's just things, and thank God no one died".

They escaped with a few Christmas presents.

"In the ever-expanding search for affordable housing, we're building in fire corridors that historically we were not", Patzert said of burgeoning housing developments in the Santa Clarita River Valley, for example, which includes the communities of Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru. He was grateful to find it untouched the next day.

More than 1,000 firefighters worked through the night protecting buildings, including City Hall, where the flames reached the parking lot, destroyed a couple of cars and left an adjacent hillside blackened and smoldering.

"I'm keeping an eye out so if need be, we can just get out of here", said Morales with his pit bull terrier Riley by his side.

(Derechos de autor © 2015. Todos los derechos reservados.)
 
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