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Multiple Wildfires Burn Across Southern California, Continue To Grow

NASA Thomas Fire image
False-color satellite image of the Thomas Fire and burn scar in its wake

UPDATE, DEC. 8, 10:20 A.M. PT: Strong Santa Ana winds and low humidity continue to pose a hazard as firefighters across the region Friday continue to contain six on-going wildfires in Southern California.

In total the wildfires have consumed more than 141,000 acres, destroyed 500 structures, threatening 23,000 homes, and forced 190,000 residents to evacuate parts of Ventura County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County and San Diego County, according to according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Twitter.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has spread from 96,000 acres to 132,000 acres. Fire authorities said winds have spread the fire to the west side of Hwy 30. As of Friday morning, the fire is 10% contained. It has destroyed 439 structures, the Ventura County Star reports.

Firefighters using air and geographic information system devices have downgraded the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita from 7,000 acres consumed to 6,049. The fire did not grow overnight and is 35% contained, authorities said. As of Friday, one structure had been destroyed and 5,460 structures remain threatened.

Firefighters have made significant progress battling the Creek Fire but still face significant challenges in Sylmar. The 15,000-acre wildfire is 40% contained. At least 115 structures have been damaged or destroyed, including 28 homes. Fire authorities expect Santa Ana winds to blow 50 to 70 miles per hour today and the area’s poor access and steep rugged terrain has prevented firefighters from reaching certain places to put out the fire. 

The Skirball fire that broke out next to the Getty Center museum remains at 475 acres and 30% contained. At least 18 structures have been destroyed or damaged and one firefighter injured, according to ABC News.

In San Diego County, the Lilac Fire has charred 4,100 acres and destroyed 65 structures. The fire is 0% contained as of Friday morning. Two firefighters and four civilians were injured and taken to the hospital Thursday.

In Riverside County, the Liberty Fire has burned 300 acres and is 10% contained. Two structures have been destroyed. 

UPDATE, DEC. 7, 3:30 P.M. PT: Fire authorities issued red flag warnings across Southern California on Thursday afternoon as dry conditions and gusty Santa Ana winds continue to elevate the fire dangers in the region.

Firefighters across Southern California are battling new and old blazes left and right.

A little after 11 a.m. today a new blaze dubbed the Lilac Fire began to spread off Old Hwy 395 at Dulin Road in Bonsall in San Diego County, which is a little more than 100 miles south of the fires in Los Angeles County. The Lilac Fire began as a 10-acre brush fire but within a couple of hours it has grown to 1,000 acres and forced residents in the area and students in nearby schools to evacuate, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Twitter.

 

Around 2 p.m., Cal Fire reported firefighters in Riverside County were trying to contain the Liberty Fire, which has already charred 100 acres in an unincorporated area in Murrieta.

In Los Angeles, firefighters are getting a handle of the Skirball Fire that broke out next to the Getty Center museum and Bel-Air. Several celebrities who live in the area have been reporting that they are evacuating their homes or that their homes have been destroyed.

As of 2 p.m. firefighters have contained 20% of 475 acres. Fifteen homes have been destroyed or damaged, but there have been no injuries related to that fire, according to KABC.

The Rye Fire in Santa Clarita is still 15% contained and 7,000 acres. One structure has been destroyed while more than 5,000 structures are being threatened.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Twitter said the Creek Fire remains at 12,600 acres and is 10% contained.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, remains at 96,000 acres and 5% contained. More than 150 structures have been destroyed, with fire officials predicting the number could reach into the hundreds, and 15,000 structures are being threatened. 

UPDATE, DEC. 7, 8:35 A.M. PT: The Thomas Fire grew to 96,000 acres overnight. It is 5% contained, has destroyed more than 150 structures and threatens another 15,000.

The Creek Fire is now 12,600 acres, has burned 30 buildings and killed horses trapped in a barn at Rancho Padilla, according to ABC News. It is 5% contained.

The Rye Fire is now 7,000 acres and 15% contained. It has destroyed one structure and threatens 5,400 buildings.

The Skirball Fire grew to 475 acres overnight and has destroyed or damaged 15 homes, according to ABC News. It is 5% contained.

“We’re doing everything we can to put our arms around it,” Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Armando Hogan said during a Thursday morning press conference next to the Skirball Fire. “We’re not out of the woods yet. Today, we’re going to hit it hard, hit it fast, and hit it safely.”

The cause of the Skirball fire is still under investigation, according to fire authorities.

UPDATE, DEC. 6, 8:45 P.M. PT: The Thomas Fire has now burned more than 90,000 acres from Santa Paula to the Ventura County beaches, the LA Times reports. The fire is 5% contained, though fears were that the winds could grow the fire overnight. Heavy winds are predicted for Thursday. About 12,000 homes are threatened by the fire.

UPDATE, DEC. 6, 4:40 P.M. PT: There are now more than 50,000 evacuees from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County and about 2,000 firefighters fighting that blaze, the Ventura County Star reports.

UPDATE, DEC. 6, 2:50 P.M. PT: The 405 Freeway in Los Angeles has reopened in both directions, though two northbound lanes were still closed at Getty Center Drive, CBS News reports. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared a local state of emergency related to the Skirball Fire.

The Santa Ana winds, which have been driving the spread of the fires in very dry conditions, are expected to increase this evening, with gusts exceeding 40 mph in some areas.

UPDATE, DEC. 6, 9:57 A.M. PT: A new 50-acre wildfire broke out around 4:50 a.m. along the Sepulveda Pass, next to the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. Dubbed the Skirball Fire, the wildfire forced the closure of one of the busiest stretches of freeway in the nation. Two homes were seen on fire and it is threatening multimillion-dollar homes in the area and cultural landmarks such as the Getty Center museum and Skirball Cultural Center. The Getty closed for the day, according to KABC news

As of 7 a.m. the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita has spread from 5,000 acres to 7,000 acres and 5% contained, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Twitter. 

Three firefighters were injured overnight battling the Creek Fire in Sylmar that has spread to 1,377 acres. The wildfire is threatening more than 2,500 structures and forced 100,000 people to evacuate, according to CBS News. The severity of the firefighters' injuries was not disclosed. No fatalities have been reported. Fourteen Los Angeles Unified School District campuses were closed Wednesday.

The Thomas Fire continued to rage on in Ventura. The fire has consumed 65,500 acres and is making its way toward the Pacific Ocean, the Los Angeles Times reports. At least 150 structures have burned, but firefighters believe that number will grow since they have yet to investigate certain areas. As of late Tuesday night, the fire is 0% contained. 

Firefighters have made significant progress with the 100-acre Little Mountain Fire that broke out in San Bernardino. San Bernardino County firefighters are hoping to get a better handle on the fire before the Santa Ana winds pick up later today. Two people were taken to the hospital with critical burns, according to the San Bernardino Sun.

UPDATE, DEC. 5, 10:20 P.M. PT: The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has now burned 50,500 acres. The Rye Fire had not reached Simi Valley and there were no evacuations for that city yet, the Ventura County Star reports.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Four fast-moving wildfires aided by gusty winds have burned down commercial structures and homes and forced tens of thousands of residents to evacuate three cities across Southern California.

The largest wildfire is occurring in Ventura County, where Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.

Dubbed the Thomas Fire, the blaze, which broke out Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the foothills near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula has burned more than 50,000 acres and destroyed 150 structures, including a 53-unit apartment building and a couple of buildings on the Vista Del Mar Hospital campus, according to the Los Angeles Times.

More than 27,000 residents had fled the area as of 2 p.m. Tuesday. Another 3,000 homes were being threatened. More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze but had 0% containment.

In Santa Clarita, several homes and schools were evacuated after another fire, dubbed the Rye Fire, broke out at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday around the 25000 block of Rye Canyon Loop. As of 3 p.m., that fire had burned more than 5,000 acres with 5% containment, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department Public Information Officer on Twitter.

A brush fire dubbed the Creek Fire broke out at 3:40 a.m. at the Kagel Canyon area above Sylmar. That wildfire has ripped through 11,000 acres and 39 homes have been destroyed.

In San Bernardino, the Little Mountain Fire near Cal State University San Bernardino, which began around noon, had grown from 25 to 100 acres, with 0% containment.

Los Angeles has declared a state of emergency.

 

Fanning the three wildfires are gusty winds as high as 45 mph. 

“The winds will make it difficult to get air support to these wildfires,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. "Helicopters may be able to aid firefighters, but the winds can be more problematic for larger aircraft."

During a 4 p.m. media briefing in Sylmar, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said 250 homes had been evacuated.

More than 300 firefighters and eight helicopters are battling the Creek Fire.

“We have lost structures but not lives,” Garcetti said. “Please evacuate.”