Southern California firefighters face ‘unprecedented’ wind in battle wildfire


California Wildfires: Approximately 200,000 evacuation orders issued

Firefighters are battling several wildfires tearing through Southern California. Powerful winds fanning the fire that have prompted officials to issue nearly 200,000 evacuation orders.

The firestorm that has engulfed parts of Southern California, the fire department in order to keep “unprecedented” wind gusts as they work to fight the fire in what officials have described as “steep, inaccessible areas.”

The National Weather Service has extended a red-flag warning until Saturday, over a large part of the region, which indicates a “critical” fire conditions exist in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, where fire destroyed hundreds of homes since Sunday.

“If fire ignition occurs, there will be the potential for a very rapid spread of the wildfire with a long-range spotting and extreme fire behavior that can lead to a threat to life and property,” the weather service warned.

Los Angeles firefighters battle to contain flames from a burning house in Bel Air in Los Angeles, Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Fire officials warned strong winds can help to fan the dangerous flames in a blaze that develops.

“These winds are pretty much unprecedented,” Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Trent Aronson told Fox News on Thursday.


Aronson said the burning this week is particularly challenging because 60 kilometres per hour, gusting not to allow firefighters to actually fight the flames, but instead of taking precautionary measures to slow down the spread.

Fire consumes a house on Via Arroyo like a forest fire raging in Ventura, California, on Tuesday

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Crews battling the Skirwall Fire that burned 475 acres in LA are two extremes – very hot and windy conditions during the day and the cold conditions in the night, according to Aronson.

“These winds are almost unparalleled.”

– Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Trent Aronson

In the first days of a firefight, firefighters may work for a few days right before reinforcements arrive, Cal Fire Spokeswoman Lynnette Round, told Fox News.

Each incident team on the fire lines have a medical unit with them, but physical exhaustion is starting to set in for the crew as the wildfire battle in days, Aronson added.

Updated smoke graphic model. #CAwx #ThomasFire #CreekFire #RyeFire

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) December 7, 2017


Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Peter Sanders said at a press conference Wednesday that the fire department spent a large part of the day trying to establish containment lines, and making of fire breaks with hand crews to as much as they could be recorded before the wind worsened.

A Los Angeles County firefighter puts water on a burning roof during a wildfire in the Lake, a Terrace with Views of the surrounding area of Los Angeles, on Tuesday.

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

“A large part of the area of this fire is in steep, inaccessible areas, inaccessible terrain that has not burned in decades, if not longer,” Sanders said. “So a part of the area are very hard to get in the course of the day, it is very harder in the night.”

Air tankers that have been grounded much of the week due to high winds in Ventura County and flew on Wednesday, falling in the flame retardant on the Thomas Brand. About 2,500 firefighters are working to attack the blaze about 60 miles north of Los Angeles before the wind picked up again. The blaze was only 5 percent contained and has burned 96,000 acres.

“In fact, We are in an urban gunfight in Ventura, where as you can keep the house from burning, you may be able to slow the fire down,” Tim Chavez, a fire behavior specialist at the fire, said at a press conference. “But that’s about it.”

Further south, crews continue to battle the Rye Fire in Los Angeles County, which as of Thursday had burned 12,605 acres and 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Smoke rises behind a leveled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, California, Tuesday.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

County fire spokesman Kenichi Haskett told Fox News Thursday that the fire service no experience usually, brands like to see this week so late in the year, but Southern California has not gotten any rain recently.

“It is dry, so we are faced with a lot of dry vegetation and dead trees,” Haskett said.


There is help coming to the region from other parts of California and the neighboring states.

Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management announced on Tuesday 10 strike teams were on their way to southern California to help, and the Oregon State Fire Marshal reported an additional five strike teams are ordered.

Portland firefighter Damon Simmons told FOX 12 Oregon everyone is still in shock about the voracity of the wildfire season. But even during the holidays, there is no question of where they want to and should be.


Photos: Southern California wildfires rage

“It’s one of those things where you have those discussions and you say: ‘Hey look, there is a real need here in California,” Simmons told FOX 12. “They need help, so maybe we can push some of those parties back, and maybe oppose some of this holiday, because people need us.”


California braces for extreme wind in the midst of forest fires

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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