Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen

Southern California wildfires burn with little containment as conditions worsen

The forecast is disturbing enough that the Los Angeles school system has canceled classes in many San Fernando Valley schools and officials are bracing for more fires across the region. The Santa Ana wildfire threat index, which measures the potential for the winds to spread fire, ranked the threat level at high or extreme on Thursday from just south of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border.

One firefighter suffered neck burns and was treated at a hospital, authorities said. "This is not 'watch the news and go about your day.' This is pay attention minute-by-minute ... keep your head on a swivel".

The Thomas Fire, the largest of the blazes, is burning through Ventura County toward Los Angeles and is now more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. and showing no signs of slowing.

By Thursday winds gusts should increase to around 30 to 50 miles per hour along with low humidity, "which means very, very dry conditions, very windy conditions. which is a recipe for explosive fire growth", Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Wednesday evening. Getty officials said both museums will reopen Friday.

Tuesday, Southern California Edison tried to downplay the possibility its equipment may have sparked the fires. "Fire is coming down the mountain at you, especially at night, when it's hard to see and you don't know where the streets are".

Winds of those speeds are hard to stop even by an army of firefighters. Television footage showed multiple aircraft making water drops in an effort to stop the flames.

The fire fight improved as winds calmed, allowing officials to do battle in the air and on the ground when the fire was moving slower.

It had swelled to over 108,000 acres by midnight local time on Thursday, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which is comprised of nine government agencies, among them the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service and United States Fire Administration.

"We don't have a good feel on which direction this fire is heading", Stewart said. "It's going to be a hard night and day".

"Extremely dry conditions and Santa Ana Winds will continue to elevate fire danger", Cal Fire said in a tweet. A dozen Ventura County fire engines staged along the road near midday, the fire burning in the avocado and citrus orchards along the ridge-line above.

Officials emphasized the importance of keeping the fire's northern boundary from reaching Ojai.

That fire has consumed 38,850 hectares and forced 50,000 people to flee their homes, Cal Fire said.

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