Raging Thomas Fire triggers new evacuation orders in California

Firefighters contained 80 per cent of the "Creek" fire - the largest blaze that menaced the LA region, which roared through more than 15,000 acres - while the nearby "Rye" fire was some 65 percent under control.

Santa Ana winds that have stoked wildfires across Southern California, destroying hundreds of buildings and forcing evacuations of some 200,000 people are forecast to return in force on Sunday, authorities said.

The new blazes have triggered the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people, killed at least one person, razed some 1,000 buildings, and scorched more than 250,000 acres of land.

After the Lilac Fire exploded into existence Thursday, destroying homes, killing dozens of horses and burning more than 4,000 acres, San Diegans who witnessed deadly wildfires in 2003, 2007 and 2014 feared the worst would happen again: days of destruction.

Thick smoke and intense heat make it hard for low-flying aircraft to capture the extent of a wildfire's damage.

The winds aren't changing for Southern California's wildfires yet.

More than a third of the community's 213 mobile homes burned as fire zigzagged along a hillside, skipping some streets and razing others.

Kaufmann said the fire "blew up" very aggressively overnight into Santa Barbara County.

The Thomas fire has also knocked out power lines to thousands.

It said "critical fire weather conditions will wane Sunday night" but that dangers would persist through most of the coming week.

Some half-dozen fires have raged across California since early this week.


The air quality is worst in and around fires burning from Ventura County to San Diego County, but the smoke has traveled to places not threatened by the flames.

Setbacks: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties until Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said.

Officials said that by Saturday the Thomas Fire had charred 59,893 hectares (148,000 acres), an area about the size of Chicago.

The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and 1,964 personnel are fighting the flames. Over 150,000 residents were evacuated and some 2,500 structures are threatened, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

John Knapp did not initially believe a sheriff deputy's order to leave when he first spotted the fire outside his home in the Rancho Monserate Country Club.

The news of the fire's continued devastation in the already scorched region comes a day after firefighters across Southern California made dramatic headway in the week's battle against six major wildfires that have dragged the state's fire season well into December.

Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman Mike Eliason says crews saved several homes as unpredictable winds fanned the blaze.

In all, 834 structures have been destroyed and 118 structures are damaged across Southern California.

California Governor Jerry Brown told reporters that climate change had helped make intense fires such as these the state's "new normal".

The winds near the Thomas fire might be a little bit stronger later on Monday night into early Tuesday morning from the north, Munroe said, possibly 5 miles per hour stronger.

Seven structures were destroyed in the flames, but authorities have lifted all evacuation orders for the area. "I'm praying for everyone in our community and thankful to all the incredible firefighters", Degeneres said, adding in a later tweet that she was proud to be part of a community where people were helping each other to safety. "It's so frightful. You never think that it's going to happen to you, and it can".


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