Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Southern California wildfire doubles in size

Woolsey Fire in Ventura County nearly doubles overnight to 70,000 acres, Hwy. 101 still closed | The Modesto Bee One of the California wildfires grew so fast it burned the equivalent of a football field every second
Kenny Thornton | 12 November, 2018, 15:56

Officials took advantage of calm conditions Saturday morning to assess damage and get a new map of a blaze that has now burned 109 square miles (282 square kilometers) in the hills and canyons north and west of downtown Los Angeles.

"There is zero tolerance for any looting, " Benedict said.

The Woolsley Fire was one of three burning wildfires in the state along with the Camp Fire in northern California, which burned the entire town of Paradise.

Flames also besieged Thousand Oaks, the Southern California city in mourning over the massacre of 12 people in a shooting rampage at a country music bar Wednesday night.

The two bodies were found severely burned inside a auto on a long residential driveway in Malibu, Los Angeles County sheriff's Chief John Benedict said. Fueled by high winds and low humidity, the rapidly spreading Camp Fire ripped through the town of Paradise and has quickly charred 100,000 acres and has destroyed over 6,700 homes and businesses in a matter of hours.

More than 3,000 firefighters were battling the blaze Friday evening with 67 fire crews, 440 fire engines and 23 helicopters, Cal Fire said.

MacGregor said he probably would not rebuild: "I have nothing here to go back to".

Embers are blown by strong winds roaring sound during the Woolsey Fire on November 9, 2018 in Malibu, California.

Hollywood celebrities - including actor Martin Sheen and singer Lady Gaga - were forced to flee as a devastating Southern California wildfire tore through mansions in the coastal community of Malibu.

To help victims of the fire, the Ventura County Community Foundation has established the Hill Fire/Woolsey Fire Sudden and Urgent Needs Effort Fund to support the nonprofit organizations that are now serving survivors. Officials earlier said that five people had died in vehicles overcome by the fire.

Out of control wind-driven flames triggered mandatory evacuations, including for the entire city of Malibu. And now, they've frightened some of your brothers and sisters out into the roadways and I don't know where they are. "It's like we're all walking around kind of in a trance".

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Evacuations have been ordered in a number of other cities and towns in the area, including parts of Chico.

The Woolsey blaze also destroyed the home of Dr Strange director Scott Derrickson and the historic Paramount Ranch where HBO's Westworld and many other shows have been filmed.

"There are very few homes still standing, and we've been in multiple different neighborhoods this afternoon", Jones told CNN. Residents took matters into their own hands. Much of the brush and grasses were blackened along the valleys, and trees were still burning. Two men with shovels struggled to dig a firebreak in front of a line of burning brush.

Some 250,000 homes are under evacuation orders across the region. "The rate of spread is exponentially more than it used to be", said Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, urging residents to evacuate rather than stay behind to try to defend their homes.

"Usually the winds here come off the water - they are wet and cool".

He used a garden hose to douse most of the embers. Also on her mind were the couple and their three children, who rent the old family home, which has likely been lost, Hayes said. Firefighters carried people from homes and put them in empty seats of their neighbours' cars, said Carol Napoli, 74.

Napoli left with her friend, the friend's son and her mother who is in her 90s and had to leave behind her oxygen tank.

Residents who escaped Paradise posted harrowing videos to social media as they drove through tunnels of swirling smoke and orange flames to outrun the wildfire.

"That is a potential threat, and we're trying to mitigate that", Tidwell said. "My girlfriend was driving".

"I just can't think about it", she said, beginning to cry.

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