Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

California faces worst-ever Santa Ana wind risk

Thomas Lauder  Los Angeles Times Thomas Lauder Los Angeles Times
Stacy Diaz | 07 December, 2017, 20:55

"These are days that break your heart", Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, according to the New York Times.

Evacuations have been ordered and a wider area has been told to be ready for orders to leave.

"The forecast for [Thursday] is purple", Ken Pimlott, director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said last night, referring to the only color above red on the wind scale.

The Getty Center was already set to be closed Wednesday due to the other wildfires burning in Southern California.

The fires have have now crossed over the main coastal highway and reached the Pacific Ocean, on America's West Coast.

UCLA, a few miles south of the fire, said it believed its campus was safe but canceled afternoon and evening classes, citing hard traffic conditions.

These aren't the first major fires California has had to deal with in recent months.

California's top firefighter says the state is in for the worst Santa Ana wind conditions it's ever seen. School systems in the area closed down as the fire continued to spread.

Meanwhile in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, the so-called Creek Fire blackened more than 11,000 acres.

Little flame was visible by late Tuesday, but in the morning fire exploded on the steep slopes of Sepulveda Pass, closing a section of heavily traveled Interstate 405 and destroying four homes.

Officials have still not stated what caused the fire, but some said the ongoing drought has left the area "ripe for spreading" and likely to get a whole lot bigger.

"Our fire situation is certainly reduced enough that we can certainly allow those resources to be deployed", said the Public Information Officer with the Oregon State Fire Marshal, Rich Hoover. Two firefighting helicopters have been assigned.

A man walks among the ruins of a home destroyed by the Thomas Fire as smoke obscures the sky in Ventura, Calif., Dec. 6, 2017.

The water-dropping planes and helicopters essential to fighting massive fires have been mostly grounded because it's too unsafe to fly in the strong gusts.

The National Weather Service also extended a high wind warning until Friday evening, with wind speeds of 40 miles per hour. She and her husband were about to evacuate again, hoping they will get lucky twice as the new winds arrive.