Residents of coastal towns ordered to evacuate early Sunday, as Thomas fire edges closer to Santa Barbara after blackening 155,000 acres
The largest California wildfire advanced on coastal towns near Santa Barbara on Sunday, stoked by gusty breezes and dry conditions that have fueled destructive blazes across the south of the state.
Authorities ordered residents in parts of Carpinteria and Montecito to evacuate early on Sunday as the Thomas fire edged closer to the city of Santa Barbara, about 100 miles west of Los Angeles. The blaze had already blackened 155,000 acres and consumed hundreds of structures.
Half a dozen fires have raged across California since early the coming week. Governor Jerry Brown issued emergency proclamations for Santa Barbara, San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, freeing up additional resources to fight the infernos.
Officials said smoking from the fires was causing unhealthy air for large parts of southern California. The flare-up on Sunday in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties sent up a new plume that added to heavy smoke already choking regions around the cities of Ventura, Oxnard and Santa Paula.
The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District said air quality was especially bad in the Ojai Valley, where it has at times reached hazardous levels. To the south-east, regulators cautioned on Saturday of unhealthy air across parts of greater Los Angeles. The South Coast Air Quality Management District urged residents to avoid vigorous outdoor activities.
Brown visited Ventura County on Saturday and said deadly and destructive wildfires in wintertime were” the new normal “.
At a news conference, the governor said drought and climate change meant California faces a” new reality” where lives and property are constantly threatened by fire, at a cost of billions of dollars. He added that there was a good chance of ensure” firefighting at Christmas” this year.
It will take “heroic” efforts in the US and abroad, Brown said, to stem climate change. The governor, who strongly criticised Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal in an interview with CBS due to be broadcast on Sunday evening, exhorted US lawmakers to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, deluges and earthquakes.
This week, Trump issued a federal proclamation that enabled agencies to coordinate relief efforts in southern California.
At least one home in Carpinteria burned down on Sunday, the Santa Barbara County fire department said. The flame was only 15% contained as of Sunday morning, in agreement with the California department of forestry and fire protection( Cal Fire ).
Top wind velocities were forecast to increase to 55 mph on Sunday from 40 mph on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service( NWS ). Such gusts, coupled with the rugged mountain terrain above Santa Barbara and Ventura districts, have hampered firefighting efforts, authorities said.
The flames have forced the evacuation of some 200,000 people and destroyed nearly 800 structures. A 70 -year-old woman died on Wednesday in a car accident as she tried to flee the flames in Ventura County.
The Thomas fire, the largest blaze, had left nearly 90,000 clients without power as of early Sunday morning, Southern California Edison said on its website.
The 8,5000 firefighters battling the fires that have burned over the past week gained some ground on Saturday. Both the Creek and Rye flames in Los Angeles County were 90% contained by Sunday morning, officers said, while the Skirball fire in Los Angeles was 75% contained. North of San Diego, the 4,100 -acre Lilac fire was 60% contained.
A brush flame broke out on Saturday night in the city of Monrovia in Los Angeles County, inspiring temporary evacuations, the US Forest Service said on Twitter. A group of Boy scout camping in the field were among those evacuated, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Crews knocked down the three-acre blaze and no structures were reported injury, the city of Monrovia said on its website.
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