Extreme wildfires in Southern California’s Ventura County have been continually stoked by dry air and turbulent winds. Fire officials have stated that their fight to control the fires could take over a week given the conditions.
As of late Thursday night the wildfire has spread over 115,000 acres and destroyed 427 buildings in Ventura county. The fire has also severely damaged at least 85 structures and destroyed an additional 12 in unpopulated areas.
The Ventura County Fire Chief told reporters that the fight will likely continue over a couple of weeks until the fierce winds begin to settle down. This report came mere hours after Ventura county authorities said they had found the body of a woman in the affected area.
As tough winds pushed the fire towards the Faria Beach costal community, smoke began to billow into the air. As trees started to catch fire, police began to order residents to evacuate the area and the road was closed.
Dubbed the “Thomas fire” it was one of 6 burning in the areas of Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego. Although it is not unusual for there to be heavy winds this time of year, weather specialists noted that it was not often they would be combined with such dry conditions.
Climate scientists reported that the air had been the direst ever in recorded history, even drier than levels found in America’s central deserts during the summer.
Authorities are worried that the wildfire may move into the Santa Barbara County and pose a threat to the city of Carpenteria. Over 2000 firefighters are mobilised and are prepared to fight a moving battle with the fire.
Firefighters have been briefed on the strong winds near the sea that are reaching gusts of up to 50 mph. The winds pushing the plumes of smoke have obscured visibility making it hard to see more than a few hundred feet ahead.
Officials have begged residents to evacuate the forested areas around Ojai which rests on the northern most front of the wildfire. Large amounts of flame have begun to ascend the steep cliffs of the Ojai box canyon and police are relived that they ordered an evacuation the night before.
While the majority of residents left the area under police orders, some decided to remain in their holdouts. Authorities could not divert resources to protect them and they are essentially on their own.
With power lines and communication systems not working it’s hard for residents to know the status of their neighbours or their homes.
While the fire rages on, authorities are grateful that they had fair warning of it so they could evacuate residents.