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Devastating Wildfires Blaze Across Southern California
Devastating wildfires have besieged Southern California for days, scorching nearly 160,000 acres so far and forcing more than 200,000 people out of their endangered neighborhoods. The Santa Ana winds are fueling the blazes, which are expected to continue through the weekend.
As California Gov. Jerry Brown and President Donald Trump declare a state of emergency in Southern California, firefighters are bravely battling six different fires across the region, spanning from Ventura to San Diego County. Southern California residents should be prepared to evacuate their homes, even if they don’t live in areas that are currently impacted.
The Thomas Fire, located in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County, is the largest of the six fires. According to CNN, the Thomas Fire “has burned an area that’s more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.” and is currently burning at a rate that would consume New York’s Central Park in about 15 minutes. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that more than 88,000 residents have evacuated and 15,000 structures are threatened by the fire.
The Creek Fire is located above the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles, in the Kagel Canyon area. So far, it has destroyed more than 15,000 acres of land and multiple buildings. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection estimates that more than 150,000 residents have been evacuated and 2,500 structures remain threatened by the fire. The Los Angeles Fire Department has reported that the fire is about 40% contained.
Approximately 2,000 people have evacuated due to the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita, which has burned more than 6,000 acres and has threatened thousands of structures. According to reports, nearly 1,000 firefighters are fighting the flames, which are about 35% contained. “We want our residents in Los Angeles County to be vigilant,” said Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Scott Miller. “We still have high winds and a chance for ember casts.”
California officials say that the Lilac Fire in San Diego County is rapidly growing at a dangerous rate. Residents, along with about 850 horses and numerous other animals, were forced out of the area by mandatory evacuations on Thursday night. As of Friday, the fire had burned more than 4,100 acres and was 0% contained. The Los Angeles Times reports that state fire officials are fighting the flames with more than 1,000 firefighters and a fleet of aircraft and helicopters.
Hundreds of residents of the Bel Air area of Los Angeles faced mandatory evacuation orders as the Skirball Fire blazed through their neighborhood, drawing national attention and prompting the complete closure of the infamously busy 405 Freeway. Several houses were destroyed and others sustained significant damage. City officials confirmed that while the fire is only about 30% contained as of today, some residents will be allowed to return to their homes.
The Liberty Fire in the unincorporated area of Murrieta has impacted Riverside County residents, burning at least 300 acres and destroying one home and several outbuildings. The fire is now 60% contained and all evacuation orders for the area have been lifted, though all 20 Murrieta Valley Unified School District campuses will remain closed on Friday out of precaution.
These six fires come on the heels of October’s deadly blazes in Northern California, which burned more than 210,000 acres and destroyed at least 8,400 structures in Tubbs, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Butte Counties. The California Fire Lawyers, a legal team consisting of Baron & Budd; Singleton Law Firm, Dixon Diab & Chambers LLP; Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire LLP; and Terry Singleton, Esq.; currently represents more than 350 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against PG&E, holding the utility accountable for its alleged role in causing the fires.