Explosive wildfire in Southern California forces thousands to evacuate

A wind-whipped wildfire explosion early Tuesday in Southern California, forcing more than 27,000 people to evacuate and causing at least one death.

Ventura County Fire officials said “The Thomas Fire” broke out Monday evening east of Santa Paula, situated about 60 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The fire has increased to 31,000 acres has destroyed 150 structures, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

“The prospects for containment are not good, ” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a press conference. “Really, Mother Nature is going to decide when we have the ability to set it out.”

The Thomas Fire furies on the side of a mound early Tuesday in Ventura County, Calif ( VCFD PIO)

Officials said one person had died in an auto accident relating to such fire, but did not dedicate any details. An trauma to a firefighter has also been reported, according to officials.

There is zero percent containment of the fire, officers said at a Monday night press conference. A total of 500 firefighters are battling the flame, and power outages have been reported in Santa Paula, Camarillo, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Southern California Edison said nearly 180,000 customers in the Ventura County region were without service.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered ordered for East Ventura , north of Foothill Road. ( VCFD PIO)

The fire is currently burning chaparral, a brush that has not burned in 20 years. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Authorities say Ventura, a city of over 100,000 people 12 miles away, is expected to feel the effects of the fire soon. Thomas Aquinas College, a school with about 350 students, has furthermore been evacuated.

Evacuation shelters have been set up at the Miners Building at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and Nordhoff High School, FOX1 1 Los Angeles reported.

Residents located outside the evacuation zone watched the flame transformation along the nearby mounds overnight, and debated whether they should stay or go.

“I simply hope we’re all right, ” Taylor Penny told the Los Angeles Times.

The National Weather Service said breezes of 43 mph with gusts over 60 mph have been reported in the region, and are expected to continue throughout the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

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