Saturday, 17 November, 2018

California wildfires force hundreds of thousands to evacuate, claim lives

A screenshot showing helicopter footage of the Hill Fire on Thursday Nov. 8 2018 A screenshot showing helicopter footage of the Hill Fire on Thursday Nov. 8 2018
Melody Ballard | 10 November, 2018, 02:28

The fire placed 75,000 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties under evacuation orders Friday morning and was zero percent contained after scorching 8,000 acres, destroying multiple structures and threatening at least 30,000 homes in the two counties, authorities said.

Strong blustery winds combined with dry conditions have helped the blaze spread, after weeks without rain and low humidity at the height of the wildfire season in north California. One CBS reporter said she has seen rabbits cowering from the smoke, and running around in confusion.

The Butte county sheriff's office says an evacuation order was issued on Friday for the small communities of Stirling City and Inskip, north of Paradise, where thousands of homes were destroyed.

The Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, at 3400 Calle Real, was opening at noon Friday to accept large animals for evacuated residents, according to Ventura County officials. Complicating matters were the traffic signals that were knocked out of service, and motorists were advised to expect lengthy delays.

Overnight, the so-called Woolsey Fire reached the city of Agoura Hills and raced through Oak Park, in the adjacent Ventura County.

Another fire was burning farther west in Ventura County, also moving toward the ocean. "It just became so surreal", Mary said while standing outside the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, which had been established as one of several evacuation shelters in the area.

The so-called Woolsey Fire burning west of Los Angeles has surpassed 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) Friday morning and is continuing to grow.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted that the fire was dangerously close but he's safe. No injuries have been reported.

At least 1,000 structures destroyed by fast-moving fire in Northern California
He said the fast-moving flames forced fire crews to shelter people at a Walgreens and other locations until flames passed through. Murphy says firefighters were able to stop the fire at the edge of the city, where evacuation orders remained in place.

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"I couldn't have imagined this in my worst nightmare", one resident said. I am too nervous with these fires'.

Thousands were evacuated, including from schools and hospitals. Beginning yesterday with the Camp Fire, Californians are now battling the Camp Fire, Hill Fire, and Woolsey Fire as high-speed winds continue to spark more blazes.

"While a lot of my yard and neighbors' yards burned, the firefighters saved our homes", Janic tweeted just after 2 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) Friday.

"We've been pushing this and pushing this", CalFire Capt. Scott McLean said in a phone interview early Friday morning.

'If you are in the evacuation zone, go now.' he warned.

The fire erupted Thursday northwest of Los Angeles and has been swept southward toward the ocean by strong Santa Ana winds.

Voluntary evacuations have been added in Ventura County for Lake Sherwood and the area south of Hwy 101 and north of Potrero Road between Westlake Boulevard and Wendy Drive in Thousand Oaks.

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