California wildfires now larger than New York City and Boston combined

12 December, 2017, 16:07 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
  • Creek Fire Destroys 30 Structures Injures Firefighters

The Thomas Fire, which for a time Sunday was ratcheted down just 10 percent contained, has ticked back upward to 15 percent containment - but authorities are warning that the dry, gusty winds in the area "will continue to promote significant fire growth".

Both the Creek and Rye fires in Los Angeles County were 95 and 93 percent contained, respectively, by Monday morning, officials said, while the Skirball Fire in the posh Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles was 85 percent contained.

Some of those firefighters had just finished battling blazes closer to home.

Less than two months after wildfires burned through 245,000 acres, destroyed 8,400 structures, and killed 42 people in Northern California's wine country, there is more devastation.

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

A major flare-up on the western edge of Southern California's largest and most destructive wildfire has sent residents fleeing as flames churned through canyons and down hillsides toward coastal towns.

This view is from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2 satellite.

The forecast has prompted mandatory evacuations for the Central Coast areas of Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and Santa Barbara - some of which haven't been affected by wildfires in decades.

The Thomas fire has also knocked out power lines to thousands. 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, urged U.S. lawmakers to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.

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Despite the intensity of the fires that raged on multiple fronts - stretching from areas north of Los Angeles down to the San Diego region - authorities have reported only one fatality.

But the National Weather Service is forecasting top wind speeds to increase to 55 miles per hour on Sunday, up from the 40 miles per hour recorded on Saturday. It has burned 15,619 acres and was 95 percent contained late Sunday.

The blaze was 90 percent contained as of Sunday morning, and 1,964 personnel are fighting the flames.

And retired tennis player Jimmy Connors said the Thomas Fire was also threatening his home and tweeted that firefighters were "working tirelessly".

Ventura County fire behavioural analyst Brendan Ripley says he believes the fire is the fifth largest in California's history.

The air thick with acrid smoke, even residents of areas not under evacuation orders took the opportunity to leave, fearing another shutdown of US 101, a key coastal highway that was closed intermittently last week. It's just 10 per cent contained after charring almost 360 square miles (930 square kilometres) of dry brush and timber.

On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown described the situation as "the new normal" and predicted vast fires, fuelled by climate change, "could happen every year or every few years".

The Liberty fire, located in Riverside County near Murrieta, north of Temecula, has scorched 300 acres of land. "It's so frightful. You never think that it's going to happen to you, and it can". She said as of Saturday morning, it was unclear when they will be allowed to return to their homes.

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