Six major wildfires emerged in Southern California recently and are continuing to burn throughout the weekend as the flames are stoked by unusually long-lasting Santa Ana winds, and an over abundance of dry vegetation due to increased rainfall earlier in the year.
Thus far an estimated 170,000 acres of land are being affected by the fires forcing 200,000+ residents to flee their homes in search of safety. Upon Governor Jerry Brown’s request, Donald Trump has declared a federal state of emergency for California, opening up federal coordination to combat the blazes.
See a rough estimation of the fire locations below:
As of Saturday, one casualty related to the fires has been reported. A 70 year-old Santa Paula woman was found dead at a crash site along an evacuation route.
Predictions expect the winds to increase in severity yet again by Saturday night, possibly reaching 35-55 MPH gusts by Sunday. Spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, Lynne Tolmachoff said the sustained winds “potentially put the fires that are currently burning at risk of spreading,”.
Even with 8,700+ firefighters already engaged in battling fires, there is far to go before any real containment will be achieved. Currently, containment of the affected zones ranges between 0-60 percent, but the largest one, The Thomas fire, spanning more than 140,000 acres across Ventura county (about 100,000 football fields), is roughly only 15% contained and is thought to worsen as the weekend continues.
Across all fires, 500+ structures have been destroyed including residential and commercial properties. Another 22,000+ structures have been labeled at risk of damage or destruction.