Forest fires sparking apocalyptic destruction
Jonathan Hunt reports from Ventura, California
VENTURA, California. – The same vicious wind, which has three Southern California fires in destructive dynamos were also making the fire fight more difficult.
The water-dropping planes and helicopters are essential to tame and forest fires are usually well-founded because it’s too dangerous to fly in the strong wind. Tuesday saw wind gusts of more than 50 mph (80 km / h).
Commanders hoped to have them back in the air on Wednesday morning, but all indications were that the wind will be whipping, fanning the fire that spurred evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people, destroyed nearly 200 homes and remained mostly out of control.
“The prospects for the inclusion not good,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a press conference Tuesday. “Really, Mother Nature is going to determine when we have the opportunity to take it out.”
Southern California called the Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous forest fires. They blow from inland in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, accelerate as they squeeze through mountains and canyons.
The largest and most destructive of the fire, an 85-square-foot (220-sq. km) wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, had almost reached the Pacific ocean on Tuesday evening after the start of 30 miles (48 km) inland of a day earlier.
The wildfire jumped the great artery of U. S. Highway 101 to a rocky beach in the northwest of the Ventura, bringing new evacuations, although officials said the sparse population and the lack of vegetation in the area so it was not too dangerous, and the highway was not closed.
The fire had destroyed at least 150 structures, incident commander Todd Derum said he suspects hundreds of houses are already lost, though the firefighters have not been able to assess them.
Lisa Kermode and her children back to their home Tuesday after evacuating Monday to find their home, and in the world in ashes, including a christmas tree and presents they had just bought.
“We have a knot in our stomach, come back here,” Kermode said. “We lost everything, everything, everything, all our clothes, something that is important to us. All of our family heirlooms — it is not the type of road, it is completely gone.”
Mansions and modest homes alike were up in flames in the city. Dozens of houses in a neighborhood burned to the ground.
John Keasler, 65, and his wife Linda drove out of their apartment building as the flames approached, then stood and watched the fire burn on the ground.
“It is sad,” Keasler said. “We love this place. We lost everything.”
Linda Keasler said they were just happy to be alive, despite the loss of so many.
“Those things we can always come back,” she said. “The truth is that it is just things and thank god no one died.”
Some 12,000 structures were threatened.
A spokesman for the American Red Cross says that they expect a shelter in Ventura County to be with the capacity of the Tuesday evening.
Fred Mariscal, says Red Cross officials expect about 400 people at the shelter Tuesday night.
He says that the care of meals, providing a mobile shower truck and the doctors and nurses on hand to provide medication for residents who were displaced by the wildfire.
While the burning brought echoes of the storm in Northern California, that killed 44 people two months ago, no deaths and only a handful of injuries had been reported.
In the foothills north of the city of Los Angeles, 30 structures burned. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the stormy wind is expected to last most of the week had created a dangerous situation and he urged the 150,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders to leave their homes before it is too late.
“We have lost structures, we have not lost life,” he said. “Don’t wait. Leave your houses.”
Fire is not typical in Southern California this time of year, but can break if the dry vegetation and lack of rain combine with the Santa Ana winds. Hardly any measurable rain has fallen in the region over the past six months.
Fire in a suburb of institutions such as this are likely to be more frequent as climate change makes the fire season throughout the year, a threat and will be more pressure on the local budgets, said Char Miller, professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College, has written extensively about the forest fires.
“There are much larger numbers who will be evacuated, such as we see now,” says Miller. “These fires are not only fast and furious, but they are very expensive to fight.”
In LA County, tv shows with a large outdoor sets, including HBO’s “Westworld” and CBS’s “S. W. A. T.” stopped the production of the as a result of concerns about the safety of the cast and crew.
And the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, keep those workouts in the vicinity of the Ventura County fire, canceled practice on Wednesday.
Dalton reported from Los Angeles. Krysta Fauria in Santa Paula and Brian Melley, Robert Jablon, John Antczak, Chris Carlson and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
For complete coverage of the forest fires in California, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/Wildfires